Presidential Administration and security forces taking over Government functions
On July 12th, head of the Presidential Administration, Andrei Kobyakov, held a regular meeting of the working group on construction industry reform.
Construction industry reform clearly demonstrates which public authorities are most trusted by President Lukashenko and, consequently, have the greatest influence. As a result, Prime Minister Myasnikovich can only draw attention to the Government by making provocative statements.
As a result of the working group’s meeting, Kobyakov instructed the government to harmonize the ratio of administrative personnel and the actual number of builders in the main building organizations according to existing standards by October 1st, 2013. In other words, the head of the Presidential Administration demanded reform in construction industry management. This is supposedly the Architecture and Construction Ministry’s responsibility, which reports to Prime Minister Myasnikovich.
The working group receives information about the state of affairs in construction from two entities close to the President: the KGB and the State Control Committee. Within the working group, representatives of the Architecture and Construction Ministry are checked up on and are systematically subject to criticism on TV (which is deserved).
This seizure of control over the construction industry by the Presidential Administration was anticipated. Since 2010, public administration bodies have been systematically narrowing down to those that President Lukashenko trusts the most. These include the President’s Administration and controlling and law enforcement agencies.
In turn, Prime Minister Myasnikovich is forced to respond to such a ‘raider’s’ intervention in his area of responsibility. It should be recognized that the Prime Minister has very little opportunity to resist the process of ‘public administration shrinking’. Myasnikovich’s response does not look convincing. During the Council of Ministers’ meeting on July 10th, Myasnikovich demanded to simplify and accelerate the construction under investment contracts. To this, KGB Chairman Jakobson said that the issue would be discussed during Kobyakov’s working group.
Finally, on July 12th, Myasnikovich supported the controversial idea to introduce tax for the unemployed (about 445,000 working age nationals do not work anywhere and enjoy social benefits). This statement indicates an unfolding crisis, as the government is unable to achieve the economic growth targets set by the Presidential Administration or to change the state’s economic policy. The Prime Minister has to draw attention to himself with such outrageous statements.
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.