Wage decrease: public sector loses its profitability
According to the National Statistics Committee the average nominal wage actually two-folded in 2011 (January 2012 to January 2011) from Br 1.409 million to Br 2.880 million (204.1%). However, the inflation during the period reached 209.7%, respectively, wages, adjusted for inflation in January 2012 amounted to 97.3% of the January 2011 wages.
Wages grew faster than inflation in the chemical industry (by 157.8% up to Br 7.683 million), in petroleum production industry (by 109.6% up to Br 6.35), oil extraction (by 115.7% up to Br 5.298), textile industry (by 105.6% up to Br 2.207 million), financial sector (by 101.0% up to Br 5.158) and some other (the highest wage growth has been registered in the IT sector – by almost 200%). However, analysis of this data makes it clear that a significant increase in the wages in the textile industry did not result in a substantial wage increase due to the industry’s low base effect – wages in the textile industry, which is dominated by women, have traditionally been the lowest in the industrial sector.
In some industries wages remained high compared with other sectors, regardless of the fact that their growth lagged behind the inflation, for instance, fertilizers production, production of vehicles, machinery and equipment, insurance business. Relatively high level of income has been retained by the staff of higher education institutions (Br 4 million) and doctors (Br 4.2 million).
Disproportions in wages were accompanied by staff cuts in almost all sectors of the economy, except trade, finance, education and healthcare. Moreover, unlike workers of trade and finance industries who retained and increased their incomes, employees of educational and health care industries (except for the above-mentioned two categories: doctors and university professors) suffered severe losses. The largest saff cuts were in the construction, textile and wood processing industry.
As a result, the “average salary”, i.e. nominal wage ranging between Br 2.5 - 3 million has been paid to 12% of employees only, more than a half (55.7%) of employees received less than Br 2.5 million and one third (32.3%) – more than Br 3 million. The average salary of public sector employees constituted Br 2.5 million (including military personnel, law enforcement, customs, etc.).
It is worth to mention that the incomes of the staff in the public administration have been affected the most (in January 2012 they received 71% of their January 2011 wages), nevertheless incomes of this group of employees fit into the “average”, closer to the bottom of the range (about Br 2.5 million). The overall number of employees of this economic group is relatively small – 84,000 (all in all the economy employs 3.4 million people) however the loyalty of these workers is an important pillar of social stability.
Low wages in the public administration reduce the prestige the government as an employer, create additional incentives for corruption and threaten the loyalty of state officials in critical situations. Among the government institutions, the lowest wages are in the local administrations, National Statistics Committee, Ministry of Taxes, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Information and State Customs Committee.
It should also be noted that according to unofficial data (the National Statistics Committee has no data in this regard) wages of employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and of the Ministry of Defense do not keep up with the inflation, and generally fit into the “average”, closer to the top of the range (Br 3 million and a bit more).
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.