Authorities seeking ways to tax ’social parasites’
The decree, which envisages a tax on ’social parasitism’, has been sent for revision and should be finalised by mid-February. This initiative by the Belarusian authorities has resulted in the greater number of people registering at the employment centers, which offer mainly low-paid jobs. In addition, problems at some large state-owned export enterprises have prompted their managers to hold lay-offs or send employees on unpaid leave. Moreover, as recession in Russia builds up, Belarusian workers started returning to Belarus (up to 400,000 people according to some estimates). The authorities’ actions have exerted significant pressure on the labour market, which may lead to increased tension in Belarusian society. As a result, the authorities are likely to reconsider their initiative and to investigate other means to replenish the state budget.
President Lukashenka has met with the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, who visited Minsk and the Minsk Automobile Plant. Minsk has always sought to have independent links with Russian regional elites, partially, to compensate for the Kremlin's diminishing interest in Belarus. In recent years, Belarus’ contacts with the Russian regions have been extremely intense. However, with some leaders of Russian regions, primarily heads of large republics, communication was more difficult to build. As many analysts in Minsk suggested, Minsk could regard contacts between President Lukashenka and the head of Chechnya as an additional communication channel for relieving tension in relations with the Kremlin. However, most likely, a trusting relationship with Kadyrov is a value for Minsk as such, provided Kadyrov’s broad business and political interests, and a high degree of autonomy for the Chechen leader from the Kremlin.