Disciplinary measures in the regions
During a press conference on 13 May the Chairman of the Minsk Regional Executive Committee Boris Batura vowed to tighten the control for mismanagement by the local representatives of the "vertical". According to him, the Regional Executive Committee and the State Control Committee of the Minsk Region will monitor the cases of mismanagement in the region on a weekly basis. The worst performing regions will then become a subject of local "debriefings" with the public and media involvement.
Last week, officials of the region circled around the area in a Ministry of Emergencies helicopter. As a result the controlling bodies noted the poor state of roadsides, many deserted houses in the countryside, disorder in some production facilities, farms, in particular, barren spots in agricultural fields due to technology misapplication.
Disciplinary measures by the local governments are meant to restore the control over the state apparatus however they might become an additional factor in population’s loss of confidence to the state.
The demand of Alexander Lukashenko to restore the disciplinary practices of the Soviet Union (introduced by Andropov, the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU) is explained by the fact that the authorities lost the ability to ensure social protection of the population, to ensure conditions for the functioning of businesses and trade organizations, and that repressive practices is the only tool available for them at the moment.
One of the purposes of the disciplinary measures is to intimidate the population and prevent all forms of their self-organization. The control over the labour discipline has significantly increased at enterprises and organizations. Intelligence agencies and local governments raid businesses to fix delays for work. For instance, last week in Gomel all exits from the city shopping centre were closed, documents of all buyers were checked and then reported to their work places. In Miadel Executive Committee (Minsk region) officials were checked against late arrivals to work. 15 cases of tardiness were revealed. In order to exclude loyalty towards those being late (the population of the district is around 10,000 people and many relate to one another) a two-step control was implemented: the quality of the checks was controlled too.
Ideology workers have become more active. Meetings with groups of workers were held to explain the temporary nature of the "troubles" with the currency crisis. Cleanness of the streets and work discipline were proposed as replacements of declining well-being of the population, as well as assurances of its recovery in the future.
All these measures were an added value to the growth of social discontent. The obsessive control is regarded by the population as an attempt to shift responsibility from the real culprits of the crisis - Lukashenko and his team onto the population.
The Labour and the Tax Ministries are considering the possibility to include persons engaged in some economic activity without forming a legal entity in the social security system. When the decree No 337 comes into effect, the number of private entrepreneurs is likely to reduce due to the possibility of reducing the tax burden when switching to a tax payment as an individual. 95% of self-employed, including PE, pay insurance premiums on the basis of the minimum wage. The number of self-employed citizens is expected to increase, the number of insurance contributions to the pension system from PE will decrease, the number of citizens who will pay a fee to finance government spending will decrease by several tens. Self-employed citizens have the alternative not to pay social security fees and save resources for future pensions, which, given the gradual restriction by the state of pension requirements could be a more long-sighted option.