State Awards Policy as Stability Factor for Authorities
On February 1st, President Lukashenko conferred state awards to representatives of industry, construction, civil servants, law enforcement, military, athletes, cultural and art workers.
Regular state awards ceremony is an additional tool to ensure loyalty to the country’s supreme leadership. The Belarusian state awards policy clearly demonstrates President Lukashenko’s priorities: the focus is on the law enforcement agencies’ officials.
The award ceremony held by Alexander Lukashenko on February 1st, was the third in 2013. These awards’ characteristic feature is President’s increased attention to the Law Enforcement agencies: of 246 awarded in 2013, 215 persons (87%) represented various Belarus’ law enforcement agencies.
The same trend can be observed over a longer period of time. Among the awarded in 2012, the vast majority were law enforcement officers – over 80%. Most frequently issued state decoration in Belarus is the medal “For Distinguished Service” of III degree.
Regular award ceremony held by President to decorate security officials should be considered as one of the tools to ensure their loyalty to the President. In turn, regular ceremonial meetings attended by the president enable the Belarusian power elite to attend additional gatherings to harmonize their interests, which, in turn, are a prerequisite for the stability of the state power in Belarus.
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.