Political prisoner Statkevich is still a player in political field
On February 5th, website of Statkevich (he is a former presidential candidate and political prisoner) published his 2nd letter from prison. Statkevich again proposed to analyze the 2010 presidential campaign and its consequences. In particular, he wrote that one of the candidates had filed 3 denunciations against him.
On the one hand, revision of the 2010 presidential campaign events will further reduce mutual trust within the Belarusian opposition and the possibility for coalitions’ expansion. On the other hand, lustration is unavoidable because the opposition movements are not growing and they have abounded mutual claims.
Public debate, following publication of Statkevich’s letters, demonstrates, that all those involved acknowledge extensive “shady side” in the preparation for the 2010 presidential campaign. While participants of the debate (Neklyaev, Rymashevsky, Statkevich’s proxy Martselev) willingly refer to these shady agreements, they do not disclose details, as this could allegedly damage the political prisoners remaining in prison.
It is important to emphasize that prison censors allowed the letters in question out of the prison. The authorities are interested in fights among the opposition therefore do not seize these discussions. Moreover, the authorities are interested in that the participants in the debate keep the distance, because Statkevich’s release is likely to settle all the issues he raises.
In particular, in his first letter Statkevich asks ex-candidate Nyaklyaeu why the agreement about a meeting in a neutral territory on Decembef 19th, 2010 had been broken. As a consequence, Statkevich had to go to “Tell the Truth!” movement offices and later was attacked by unknown persons along with Nyaklyaeu hours before the meeting in the Minsk center. In his second letter Statkevich says that the most ‘Christian’ candidate (probably Vitaly Rymashevsky) thrice denounced him, which he learned from the case files. Rymashevsky publicly refuted these allegations.
Thus, the authorities are interested in the opposition leaders back-firing at each other. A year ago, in the run-up to parliamentary elections, opposition leaders also spar with each other amid accusations of lobbying the regime interests when raising the issue of lifting of economic sanctions. As a result, a broad electoral coalition was not created and the opposition carried out several disparate campaigns. In the meanwhile, the release of Statkevich depends on other political factors, for example, on guarantees for a new credit programme with the IMF.
The rapid increase in wages has led to a decline in the ratio between labour productivity and real wages to one. Previously, the rule was that enterprises, in which the state owned more than 50% of shares in the founding capital, were not allowed increasing salaries if this ratio was equal to or less than one. The authorities are unlikely to be able to meet the wage growth requirement without long-term consequences for the economy. Hence, the government is likely to contain wage growth for the sake of economic growth.
According to Belstat, In January – August 2017, GDP growth was 1.6%. The economic revival has led to an increase in wages. In August, the average monthly wage was BYN 844.4 or USD 435, i.e. grew by 6.6% since early 2017, adjusted for inflation. This has reduced the ratio between labour productivity and real wages from 1.03 in January 2017 to 1 in the first seven months of 2017. This parameter should not be less than 1, otherwise, the economy starts accumulating imbalances.
The need for faster growth in labour productivity over wage growth was stated in Decree No 744 of July 31st, 2014. The decree enabled wages growth at state organizations and organizations with more than 50% of state-owned shares only if the ratio between growth in labour productivity and wages was higher than 1. Taking into account the state's share in the economy, this rule has had impact on most of the country's key enterprises. In 2013 -2014 wages grew rapidly, which resulted in devaluation in 2014-2015.
Faster wage growth as compared with growth in labour productivity carries a number of risks. Enterprises increase cost of wages, which subsequently leads to a decrease in the competitiveness of products on the domestic and foreign markets. In construction, wholesale, retail trade, and some other industries the growth rate of prime cost in 2017 outpaces the dynamics of revenue growth. This is likely to lead to a decrease in profits and a decrease in investments for further development. Amid wage growth, the population is likely to increase import consumption and reduce currency sales, which would reduce the National Bank's ability to repay foreign and domestic liabilities.
The Belarusian government is facing a dilemma – either to comply with the president’s requirement of a BYN 1000 monthly wage, which could lead to new economic imbalances and could further affect the national currency value, or to suspend the wage growth in order to retain the achieved economic results. That said, the first option bears a greater number of negative consequences for the nomenclature.
Overall, the rapid growth in wages no longer corresponds the pace of economic development. The government is likely to retain the economic growth and retrain further growth in wages. Staff reshuffles are unlikely to follow the failure to meet the wage growth requirement.