Belarusian authorities attempt to prevent politicisation of tax on ’parasites’
The Belarusian authorities seem willing to revise their unpopular and most controversial initiatives aiming to boost budgetary proceeds due to risks of growing political demands among the population during the parliamentary campaign. Apparently, the damage to the state’s reputation is likely to exceed the revenue from the tax on ‘parasites’. The authorities are likely to prevent those who are discontent with the decree on ‘parasites’ from becoming opposition supporters.
Last week, senator Mikhail Myasnikovich proposed to introduce a patent system for the self-employed in Belarus.
The decree on ‘parasites’ has only marginally achieved the stated objectives to withdraw workers from the shadow economy and to replenish the state budget. Apparently the authorities have been unable to elaborate efficient mechanisms to identify ‘parasites’ and to force them to pay the tax. While the authorities claimed 445000 potential ‘parasite’ tax payers, only 4000 people have voluntarily ‘admitted’ to parasitism.
Amid mass layoffs at large state enterprises, reduced living standard and pressure on private entrepreneurs, the voters’ reaction to the tax on the unemployed was ambiguous. The authorities are attempting to reduce the growing response to the opposition candidates’ campaign among the discontented citizens. Some opposition candidates efficiently use unpopular governmental initiatives in order to mobilise the potential protest groups. The opposition candidates are likely to gain more support among disgruntled citizens.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to revise their approaches to Belarus’ socio-economic development due to public outcry amplified by campaigns of opposition parliamentary candidates.
Over the past year, military-political relations between Minsk and Kyiv have become complicated. Due to their high inertia and peculiarities, this downward trend would be extremely difficult to overcome.
The root cause of the crisis is the absence of a common political agenda in the Belarusian-Ukrainian relations. Minsk is looking for a market for Belarusian exports in Ukraine and offers its services as a negotiation platform for the settlement of the Russo-Ukrainian war, thereby hoping to avoid political issues in the dialogue with Kiev. Meanwhile, Ukraine is hoping for political support from Minsk in the confrontation with Moscow. In addition, Ukraine’s integration with NATO presupposes her common position with the Alliance in relation to Belarus. The NATO leadership regards the Belarusian Armed Forces as an integral part of the Russian military machine in the western strategic front (the Baltic states and Poland). In addition, the ongoing military reform in Ukraine envisages a reduction in the number of generals and the domestic political struggle makes some Ukrainian top military leaders targets in politically motivated attacks.
Hence, the criticism of Belarus coming from Ukrainian military leadership is dictated primarily by internal and external political considerations, as well as by the need to protect the interests of generals, and only then by facts.
For instance, initially, the Ukrainian military leadership made statements about 100,000 Russian servicemen allegedly taking part in the Russo-Belarusian military drill West-2017. Then the exercises were labelled quazi-open and military observers from Ukraine refused to provide their assessment, which caused a negative reaction in Minsk. Further, without citing specific facts, it was stated that Russia was building up its military presence in Belarus.
Apparently, the Belarusian and Ukrainian Defence Ministries have entangled in a confrontational spiral (on the level of rhetoric). Moreover, only a small part of the overly hidden process has been disclosed. That said, third states are very likely to take advantage of the situation (or have already done so). This is not only about Russia.
The Belarusian Defence Ministry officials are restrained in assessing their Ukrainian counterparts. However, such a restraint is not enough. Current military-political relations between Belarus and Ukraine are unlikely to stabilise without the intervention of both presidents.