Lukashenko appears to broaden nomenclature’s powers
With reduced public administration efficiency and fewer available resources to support the economic policy, president Lukashenko has no choice but to use new staff management methods. Lukashenko is not bringing the socio-political system into question, but has somewhat broadened the nomenclature’s powers. Ahead of the 2015 presidential campaign, Lukashenko needs to find additional ways to consolidate and mobilize public officials, given he has fewer resources to buy their loyalty with pay rises and social benefits.
On December 10th, the president held a national meeting at Minsk’s Independence Palace. Attended by 250 public officials from the Presidential Administration, Government, Parliament, various ministries, and other executives, including regional heads, the meeting addressed challenges in the construction industry and the government’s staffing policy. During the meeting, president Lukashenko did not question the centralized governmental system but sought to bolster public officials’ sense of responsibility by increasing their participation in the decision-making process.
Today president Lukashenko is the only politician who determines Belarus’ state policy. He has repeatedly said that all other members of the power system were managers whose task was to implement decisions taken by the President. However, in the face of shrinking external subsidies, this centralized public management system can no longer cope with managing the economy.
The president constantly reshuffles his top-managers and security officials, which brings some benefits and reduces the risks of nomenclature coup. However, these measures fail to improve public administration’s efficiency.
Failed modernization in the woodworking industry is probably the most obvious example of Lukashenko’s limited influence on his executives. Modernization in the woodworking industry started back in 2007, its deadlines were shifted many times and in 2013, directors were still working to fix the problems.
The president’s personnel policy has resulted in staff shortages, both at top- and mid-level management. On December 10th, Presidential Administration Head Andrei Kobyakov said “the Deputy Economy Minister’s chair has been vacant for nearly two years, while there are potential candidates. For a long time, such positions as Deputy Ministers of Architecture and Construction, Sports and Tourism, Director of the Department for control and supervision in construction at the State Committee for Standardization have been vacant”.
President Lukashenko seeks to preserve the existing socio-political system, and has broadened the nomenclature’s powers in decision-making only pro forma. On a larger scale, he is neither interested in changing the government’s institutional design, nor in allowing the nomenclature to create formal institutions for promoting their interests.
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.