Lukashenko delegates power to Government to mask his inability to steer economy
Lukashenko understands that he has few means to improve management at enterprises or the efficiency public administration. Since he does not want to be associated with economic policy failures, he shifts the responsibility onto the executives. However, Prime Minister Myasnikovich has not received any significant powers that would allow him to improve the economy.
Following the Government’s report about problems in the industrial complex, President Lukashenko has delegated some special powers to Prime Minister Myasnikovich.
Lukashenko’s attempts to improve the economic situation using commands have become less effective. In recent months, he introduced some measures in order to improve efficiency in the public administration. He focused on solving particular problems in the economy but failed to considerably improve the situation. He does not seem to have any means left to influence the executives’ performance so he delegates some of its powers to the Prime Minister Myasnikovich – for instance, the power to make personnel decisions.
Ahead of the presidential campaign, Lukashenko aspires to prevent the growth of discontent with the personnel policy among his managers – in the near future he may make some tough decisions. For example, in November 2013 President Lukashenko dismissed authoritative Minsk Oblast Executive Committee Chairman Boris Batura, which widely resonated among mid-level public officials. Back then, some other senior officials and managers found themselves in the firing line. .
In addition, the President is tightening criminal prosecution for failure to implement government programmes. On the head of state’s behalf, prosecutors launched a criminal examination at JSC Vitebskdrev for missed modernization deadlines.
Meanwhile, the Belarusian authorities have no doubts about their economic policies and the effectiveness of the ‘Belarusian model’. When talking about failed plans to unload warehouses by the majority of industrial enterprises, State Control Committee Chairman Yakobson said, referring to the experiences of Kommunarka and Spartak confectioneries, ‘so the problem is not about property ownership, public or private, but about staffing and management’.
Nevertheless, senior management has conflicting views on whether the current economic policy is effective. Unlike the controlling bodies, the Government is well-aware of the current economic model’s limits. First Deputy Prime Minister Prokopovich said that Belarus had no engineering enterprises which could compete with world leaders: ‘In order for MAZ and the Tractor Plant to be competitive, we must invest billions or hundreds of millions’. Meanwhile, the government has no solutions to improve the state enterprises’ efficiency within the existing economic policy.
President Lukashenko is not interested in dismissing Prime Minister Myasnikovich. The Government’s resignation will not reverse the negative trends in the economy.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.