Belarusian law enforcement protects without owning
In Belarus, the security forces do not benefit from a particular business. Their task is to ensure the state's economic interests, namely to preserve the immutability of the political regime in the country. If Belarusian security forces or their senior officers obtained economic influence in addition to power influence, the existing government system in Belarus would be under a threat.
It is common in the post-Soviet space for security forces to have a share of control over the economy. Senior security officers are often business owners. As a rule, this leads to the abuse of power and amalgamation of economic and security structures.
During his rule, Lukashenka consistently destroyed all power centres, which could challenge his absolute authority. A merger between business and the law enforcement would be a particular threat. In the early 1990s, when this process only started and was semi-criminal, the Belarusian authorities nipped a potential alliance between "the sword and the purse" within the framework of the criminal law.
To date, the main functions of the law enforcement in the Belarusian economy include:
- ensuring the national security (enforcing secrecy, mobilisation readiness, overall security of enterprises)
- ensuring the rule of law in the economy
- controlling finances and assets of state enterprises
- mobilising financial resources for the state in addition to existing taxes and duties (so-called "voluntary" contributions, compensation for damage to the state in criminal cases and the like).
That said, the Belarusian power system is subjected to corruption and abuse of various kinds. However, such criminal activity is only attributable to concrete individuals, rather than being a behavioural standard sanctioned in the highest power echelons.
The most common types of abuse of power by the law enforcement, not related to bribes include:
- granting jobs to relatives
- offering paid services to businesses
- owning businesses (registered to 3rd persons).
Locally, the Belarusian law enforcement, commercial structures, executive and supervisory bodies often link together, creating a system of mutual cover-ups, conspiracy and protection.
In the Belarusian power system, there is only one power centre, which grants powers and resources to other actors. Other state bodies either raise funds and/or implement the decisions of the central political power. Due to severe repressions, the Belarusian security forces or their senior officers are unable to obtain economic influence in addition to power influence, so as that could threaten the existing government system in Belarus.
According to Decree No. 221 of June 23rd, 2017, deadlines for the completion of foreign trade operations have been extended from 90 to 180 days for exports and from 60 to 90 days for imports. Delayed payments entailed a fine up to 2% of the transaction cost for each day of the delay, but could not exceed the total cost of the transaction. Most companies, when working with new counterparties, require a deferred payment for a period of three to six months. Due to the new regulation, violations are likely to reduce in number, so as the fines. Trade enterprises are likely to expand the assortment list due to the supply of new products in small lots, and the assortment list of exported Belarusian goods could expand, too. The new terms for completing foreign trade transactions would enable medium and small companies on the foreign trade market, exporters and importers are likely to grow in number and the geography of export-import operations could expand.