Additional measures to support Belarusian citizens under consideration


A bill on additional measures in the social and labor sphere was one of the matters discussed when Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with senior officials of the Council of Ministers on 5 July, BelTA has learned.

The government suggests taking measures to ensure stability in the social and labor sphere amid Western sanctions. The measures are temporary and will be in effect till the end of 2022. “Right off the bat I wonder whether we have to enact some legislation for half a year,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

First of all, targeted support will be offered to employers in order to support worker collectives. “Do you mean private enterprises, state-run ones, large ones, small ones, and so on?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked for a clarification and received an affirmative answer.

The president expressed concerns by saying the measures may disincentivize the enterprises. He wondered whether this support will be provided fairly and justifiably: “They will start wondering whether they have to work at all. If my company works well because the worker collective works hard while somewhere over there [at other enterprises] things are bad primarily due to subjective reasons and those will get money from the state budget.”

Secondly, the government suggests expanding the ability of employers to organize work. The measure is supposed to ensure the steady work of enterprises and create an additional resource for more effective utilization of workers and for preventing a decrease in their revenues. “Who prevents them from effectively utilizing the workers and from arranging things in a way as to raise their earnings in the current conditions? It was always the job of employers,” the president wondered.

Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Nazarov explained that the current Labor Code has certain restrictions concerning the length of permissible extra hours, the number of days off that can be spent working, and the ability of employers to give another job to their employees.

“If it is so, consider it approved. It is better to transfer a worker to another job, a permanent one or not after talking to them, after retraining them or not if it is necessary. All things can happen after all,” the head of state agreed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded about his words during a solemn assembly. The president was talking about the situation around Belarus, which has to operate virtually under wartime conditions although without a hot war. “If people don't understand it, do we have to start a hot war?” he wondered. “Nobody would ask anyone to agree to job assignments then.”

“But employers should not pin their hopes on to [Prime Minister of Belarus Roman] Golovchenko, Nazarov, or [Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Natalya] Kochanova,” the president warned.

Thirdly, the government suggests additional social security measures for families in a difficult financial situation. “Let's see what you are suggesting. It seems to me that municipal authorities can see the state of families best of all. In Minsk those are the heads of district administrations and the Minsk City Executive Committee chairman. In the countryside those are heads of rural councils and heads of district administrations. If we talk about support, it means money. Let's give the [municipal authorities] money and simply instruct them to help these families. Let's see what you suggest because of it.”

“If you think that Lukashenko, Golovchenko, Kochanova, and Gerasimov look from Minsk and have a better view of who needs help, you are mistaken. We will simply tie up hands and feet of municipal authorities due to the need to provide this aid if someone needs it. And will determine it indiscriminately once again. And will support families once again,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.

He stressed that he is in favor of aiding those who genuinely need aid. “And only those, who closely interact with these families, can support them. We can only conceptually indicate how it should be done. And we will keep an eye on how oblast governors, heads of district administrations and rural councils provide this support to the families,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked participants of the conference to report whether the document will worsen the status of working Belarusians, what costs the state budget will have to cover, what effect this kind of support will have on employers, whether it will be more convenient for employees to receive state support instead of acting themselves. “And most importantly if the measures are temporary, do we have to formulate them in a law?” he wondered.

Aleksandr Lukashenko cautioned against imbalance with regard to the desire to regulate matters by legislation: “I am telling you this as a former legislator, who did that. Passing a law takes a year, a year and a half, or even two years. You cannot rush it if you want to do it properly. And do we have to push all of it into a law, particularly temporary provisions? We will lose time if we have to pass a law. A law regulates the lengthiest and steadiest relations and ties. Why do we have to enact temporary measures with a law if we have yet to think whether we need these measures or not? I think it should be implemented via bylaws. It is a general remark.”

Labor and Social Protection Minister Irina Kostevich told media after the conference that as a result of the discussion they had decided to legislate on the additional measures designed to support citizens and worker collectives via a presidential decree instead of a law. The development of such a document takes less time.

According to Irina Kostevich, participants of the conference decided to adjust the existing procedure for targeted social aid for citizens with regard to income-confirming documents. At present documents covering 12 months are required in order to request state support. The new presidential decree will decrease the term to three months for the workers, who have been put on part time or fired. “Thus, in an individualized manner we will help people and their families to deal with the problem due to lower revenues,” the minister noted.

Municipal authorities will still be the ones to decide on granting the aid. “We are not changing these approaches. They know problems of the family and the person where the person lives,” the official explained. “People will have to submit an application via the one-stop shop service and the relevant authorities will make the decision.”

Speaking about when the new decree will be passed, the official said: “Very fast as always. We always have the same deadline – we do everything fast because time requires it.”

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