The Belarusian authorities have somewhat strengthened public support for vulnerable groups
By Zmicier Kuchlej
Authorities have amended pension legislation to boost loyalty among pensioners before the presidential elections. Additionally, they have strengthened support for large families, increased subsistence allowance, and benefits for public social services workers.
Amid looming elections, the president has initiated pension legislation amendments and strengthened social protection for some vulnerable groups. For instance, employees lacking required insurance experience (having over 10 years of work experience, but less than required) will be entitled to a labor pension instead of a social one, but the pension size will remain below the subsistence allowance. Mothers having four children will be given three additional years of insurance work experience (an increase from 9 to 12 years) if they were on parental leave, and the required insurance experience for this group will be reduced to 10 years from 17.5 years. Further to pension legislation amendments almost five years ago, some nationals, primarily women, found themselves in a pension trap, and the state persistently ignored this issue.
Besides, authorities aim to adjust the subsistence allowance for families with children in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, specifically, to increase the payment size from 100% to 115% of the minimal subsistence rate.
President Lukashenka has signed a decree envisaging additional payments to some public social service employees due to COVID-19. Simultaneously, healthcare workers are increasingly discontent with additional payments the president promised to make to doctors in April.
Furthermore, the president has approved yet another bail-out package for the agricultural sector in Minsk Homiel and Mahileu regions. Farmers will be allowed to delay debt payments.
Education authorities have been forced to respond to public pressure and parents’ reluctance to send their children to school. Only some 30%-40% of students have returned to classrooms after the spring break despite urges by the president and the Education Ministry. The authorities have granted schools the right to decide independently about the awarding ceremonies for graduates. The Education Ministry is developing a single distance learning platform in Belarus.
In the coming months, the Belarusian leadership is likely to increase support and benefits for public sector employees.