Investment and local authorities

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April 22, 2016 17:56

Regional authorities will be unable to fulfill the annual investment plan, as well, other tasks set by the government. However all the governors are in an equal situation, therefore their positions are not threatened.

The Government sets tasks for the regions regarding investment, privatization of enterprises, production growth, budget revenues from foreign economic activities, etc. Previously tasks were fulfilled with either direct budget financing or via state support programmes or using beneficial lending rates of the National Bank or other mechanisms. In the spring of 2011 the central government has lost access to the majority of these mechanisms, and was forced to cede part of the authority for the benefit of the regional authorities. First of all, it concerned the foreign currency earnings, which were left at the disposal of the local authorities. This allowed the local governments to keep afloat the most socially important enterprises.

However, the capabilities of the local authorities are restricted by the general state of the economy and by the unwillingness of the central government to assign more responsibility to the field, primarily with regard to the ways of filling the budget and to stimulation of production. For instance, all major privatization deals should be concluded by the central authorities. Local officials withstand it.

It is clear that by the end of the year the local governments will not cope with the tasks set by the central government. However the government’s failure to stimulate task performance and/or stimulate independent decision making by the local authorities implies the latter would become unaccountable.

Nevertheless, some efforts in terms of attracting investment and privatization have been made in the regions.

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President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.

President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.

The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.

The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.

The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.