Security officials strengthen anti-corruption control and their role in redistribution of state resources
Security officials have enhanced their influence on the redistribution of state resources and their role in financial and economic sectors. In addition, some nomenclature representatives with business interests have attempted to use power bodies to redirect state resources amid budgetary cuts and revision of state support programmes. Perhaps, the top leadership has authorised the anti-corruption persecution against some state managers in order to renew staffing in the public sector.
The Financial Investigation Department said that it was completing investigation of several corruption crimes committed by state officials.
The Belarusian leadership fights corruption in annual or bi-annual cycles and usually, a peak in the revealed anti-corruption crimes is followed by a decline. That said, anti-corruption persecution peaks occur during crisis years, when the resource potential of the Belarusian state is the weakest.
The state has continued to revise the budgetary policy and state support programmes for the coming years, which has affected the interests of businesses close to the state. For instance, the president has adopted and is revising plans for new large-scale state investments, eg a programme aimed at restoring urban settlements and modernization projects for depressed regions with a pilot project in Orsha.
Most likely, the state's large-scale investment plans are causing attempts to redistribute influence among the nomenclature and related business with the persecution of high-ranking officials. Corruption scandals and financial conflicts are beginning to affect retirees, former prominent officials from the presidential hierarchy, who apparently have lost their influence and contacts in the security block after leaving their posts.
After the final approval of state programmes and redistribution of state resources, the wave of anti-corruption persecution against public managers is likely to decline, especially if the economy resumes growth.
Amid budgetary cuts on social protection, the Belarusian public sector is experiencing a management crisis and a balance shift in the state resource redistribution system. The authorities are forced to revise their most unpopular decisions during the implementation due to the pressure from affected social groups. The state is unlikely to oppose to some civil society and opposition organisations in strengthening their role in society in order to retain touch with the population and to be able to respond to the most harsh criticism of state initiatives.
The Architecture and Construction Ministry has acknowledged that the decree No 585 on assistance to large and young families in building and buying housing was prematurely rescinded.
The authorities are often forced to revise their decisions on curtailing social assistance to different social groups during their implementation, without preliminary impact assessment and feedback from the population, so as they lead to the growth in social tension. Due to the centralised decision making, languishing state resources and the lack of public debate as a balancing instrument in issues related to social protection, the state administration is losing control of the population.
Perhaps, the compensatory mechanisms of the state apparatus lack the time to adjust to dwindling state resources for supporting the existing social model, even in a reduced form. The authorities have completely or partially paralysed operations of independent public institutions and representative bodies, through which they could monitor public moods and receive feedback from the population, such as local councils, the parliament, political parties and NGOs. Last year, under the pressure of the authorities, the last independent institute for measuring public sentiment, IISEPS, suspended operations.
President Lukashenka’s self-removal from the decision-making on current socio-economic issues, also could have affected the state apparatus’ operations. The president has always been very sensitive about adopting unpopular decisions which could lower his popular support, hence demanded a careful preliminary assessment of such decisions. However, recently, especially after the introduction of the tax on social dependants, the president has mainly focused on the foreign policy agenda.
Hence, a lacuna has formed in the state decision-making after the president reduced participation in the current socio-economic policy formation, which leads to an increase in manifestations of dysfunction in the public administration.