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 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.