Belarusian authorities introduce expert group to compensate for president's self-elimination from domestic policy
The Presidential Administration has introduced an expert group for legal issues. Apparently, the Belarusian leadership has acknowledged the lowered quality of legislation, which led to higher tension in society and poor decisions by the authorities. The fact that such a group has been created under the auspices of the Presidential Administration indicates that the authorities have taken the problem seriously. That said, most unpopular decisions were made by the Presidential Administration, eg the decree on social dependants and the decree on raising the retirement age. Following public pressure and protests, the authorities were forced to revise some of their decisions. For instance, they have suspended the decree on social dependants, reintroduced pension benefits for some social groups and acknowledged that the decree on assistance to families with many children and young families was rescinded prematurely. The authorities are likely to continue to cut social protection and search for new funding sources, however, they would like to minimise risks of mass discontent, especially among loyal population.
The country's leadership has instructed the local authorities to raise minimum wages at enterprises by the end of 2019 to BYN 1,000, which would lead to an increase in the average wage in the economy as a whole to BYN 1 500. The pace of wage growth in 2017 is insufficient to ensure payroll at BYN 1000 by late 2017 without manipulating statistical indicators. In order to fulfil the president’s order, the government would have to increase budgetary expenditures on wages in healthcare and education, enterprises – to carry out further layoffs and expand the practice of taking loans to pay wages and restrict investment in modernisation of fixed assets. In 2010, the artificial increase in wages led to a threefold devaluation in 2011, an increase in the average salary to BYN 1500 will not match the capabilities of the economy and would lead to yet another devaluation.