Opposition consolidates those displeased with decree on social dependants while authorities encourage them to find jobs

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August 14, 2017 11:45
Фото: Sputnik

The Belarusian leadership will not abandon the decree on social dependants but will introduce amendments to step up employment and lower protest potential. Amendments would include targeted approach and would scrap educational, medical and communal guarantees to the unemployed. Opposition parties and blocs have not changed their strategies: the Belarusian National Committee counts on the growth in street protests; "Tell the Truth" wants to negotiate with the authorities and use legal pressure tools; while right-centrists aim to combine both approaches for the mobilization of their local activists.

The president has always advocated for high employment, which, according to the authorities, could help to prevent threats to social and political stability. In addition, a large share of the public sector in the economy allows the state and official trade unions to control the workers' movement. However, recently the authorities have also demonstrated their readiness to support large private business, loyal to the Belarusian leadership.

Apparently, the authorities have taken into account the shortcomings and mistakes of the previous version of the decree on social dependants and plan to use a more selective and targeted approach. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to chase the unemployed, however, would apply additional measures against most active citizens. In addition, the government insists on targeted approach and exclusion of the unemployed from the state social guarantees in healthcare, education and housing and communal services.

Centre-rightists and "Tell the Truth" aim to soften the authorities' approach to the unemployed through applying public pressure and proposing alternatives, which, in their opinion, could relax tension in Belarusian society due to the tax pressure by the authorities. Centre-rightists are starting to make field trips to the regions to unite their supporters and prevent them from joining the Statkevich-led BPC or engaging in street protests. In addition, the authorities could adopt some proposals of the opposition to blur the opposition's economic message during the election campaign.

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According to Belstat, in August 7,600 people were dismissed, including 4,800 civil servants. Dismissals of civil servants were due to the optimisation in the public administration by up to 30%. Some civil servants would retain their job however would lose the status of a civil servant. Vacancies on the labour market are likely to reduce in number, thanks to the optimisation, the state administration would increase wages for public servants. The payroll fund for retained employees is likely to increase and some former state employees are likely to get jobs in affiliated organizations. The optimisation of the state apparatus should complete by January 1st, 2018, and some former civil servants are likely to join the ranks of the unemployed.

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