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.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.