Social policy in the Republic of Belarus

According to the Programme of Social and Economic Development of the Republic of Belarus for 2001-2005, in the forecast period the main objective of social policy is to ensure a sustainable increase in the standard of living of the population and reduce poverty. To achieve this goal, it is necessary to:

to ensure the growth of monetary incomes of the population, including from self-employment and entrepreneurial activity, their real content as a condition for the formation of effective demand of the population; significantly increase the size of wages as the main source of monetary income of the population and an important incentive for the labor activity of the population; to increase the role of state minimum social and labor guarantees, gradually bringing them closer to the subsistence minimum budget, to reduce the unjustified differentiation of certain groups of the population by income level on the basis of improving taxation of citizens’ incomes; to ensure an increase in the protection of socially vulnerable segments of the population, the implementation of pension reform.

Wage policy will be shaped by taking into account that wages should be the most important factor in economic growth and improving the efficiency of production. To do this, it is necessary to ensure an increase in the share of wages in the gross domestic product and monetary incomes of the population.

The main tasks of reforming wages in the coming five years will be:

strengthening the stimulating role of wages in increasing the production of products, works (services) and increasing its efficiency, as well as legalizing all types of labor income; a significant increase in the share of payment at tariff rates and salaries in the average monthly salary; regulation of the labor price on the basis of a phased approximation of the size of the tariff rate of the first category to the budget of the subsistence minimum, and in the future – to the minimum consumer budget; ensuring the differentiation of wages by professional and qualification groups depending on the complexity of the work performed and the level of qualification; increasing the role of social partnership in regulating wages in the real sector of the economy; implementation of the principle of equal pay for equally complex work in comparable conditions, elimination of unreasonable differentiation in the remuneration of employees of enterprises and organizations of various forms of ownership, including on the basis of mechanisms for the functioning of the labor market.

The State provides for the regulation of remuneration of public sector employees by developing a sound policy in determining the size of the tariff rate of the first category; streamlining the system of over-tariff payments and improving the parameters of the Unified Tariff Scale; development of a more effective procedure for the formation of funds for remuneration in budgetary organizations.

In the real sector of the economy, the state policy related to labor relations will be implemented through expanding the scope and increasing the effectiveness of social partnership, improving the system of taxes and payments in order to increase the role of wages in stimulating labor results and thereby return to it the function of expanded reproduction of the labor force, which will raise the prestige of wages. At the same time, it is planned to improve the ratio of the average monthly wage and the minimum consumer budget.

The expected growth of wages as the main source of income of the population will ensure an increase in its purchasing power. If in 2000 it was possible to purchase two sets of goods and services included in the subsistence budget for the average monthly wage, then in 2005 – more than three. This will reduce the share of the population with an income level below the subsistence minimum budget by half over five years.

At the same time, the increase in the salaries of employees of organizations financed from the budget in 2001 should be largely ensured by finding additional sources of financing, including by reducing cross-subsidization. The implementation of measures to reduce cross-subsidization will be carried out taking into account the outstripping growth of incomes of the population and will not affect the decline in its standard of living. At the same time, it is planned to increase the average monthly salary of employees of organizations financed from the budget through a phased increase in the tariff rate of the first category. At the same time, it is planned to streamline the wage structure. This includes in the tariff rates and salaries of the various types of co-payments, allowances and increases that are now widely used.

The increase in wages in the sectors of the sphere of material production will be carried out by performing additional tasks to increase the volume of production of products (works, services), its sale, reduce costs, reduce unproductive costs, increase profitability, that is, by improving financial and economic activities. At the same time, the principle of equal pay for work of equal and commensurate value should become the main one in such enterprises. In this regard, it is necessary to ensure the streamlining of the structure (composition) of wages and, on this basis, to increase the role of remuneration at tariff rates and salaries, depending on the complexity of the work performed and the level of qualifications.

The purpose of social protection in the medium term is to prevent a decrease in the standard of living of the population, especially the least protected categories (pensioners by age, disability, large and single-parent families), whose total income is below the established budget of the subsistence minimum.

The main directions and tasks of social protection provide for strengthening state support for socially vulnerable groups and groups of the population, increasing the effectiveness of social programs and rational use of state funds for social protection.

To this end, it is envisaged that:

ensuring the financing of social programs at the expense of the republican and local budgets, as well as non-state financial institutions; improvement of pension provision; wider use of social insurance and insurance payments in the field of social protection of the population; implementation of policies aimed at increasing real monetary incomes of the population; social insurance in case of loss of employment, temporary or permanent incapacity for work.

For the disabled part of the population, guarantees of material security and social services will be provided at the expense of social insurance and budget funds.

The reform of the system of social support for citizens will be based on the principle of targeted provision of social assistance to certain categories of families and single persons whose total income is below the subsistence minimum.

Currently, work is already underway to create a system of targeted social assistance to the population. With a view to developing a single mechanism, “pilot” programmes have been implemented since 1 July 2000 to provide targeted social assistance to certain categories of families and single persons, which in the forecast period will be extended to the whole country.

The resource provision of targeted assistance programs will be expanded through a phased reduction in cross-subsidies and budget subsidies to producers of goods and services, as well as the abolition of socially unjustified benefits and payments provided to certain categories of citizens. In this regard, it is assumed that:

streamline the system of benefits and entitlements; to enshrine by law the right to receive social assistance; gradually replace most of the benefits provided to various categories of the population with targeted forms of social assistance; transfer certain types of benefits established for certain categories of citizens in kind (for example, military personnel, persons of the rank and file of internal affairs bodies and others) into the form of cash payments.

At the same time, benefits will be preserved for groups of the population that have a special status in accordance with the legislation (disabled people and veterans of the Great Patriotic War, liquidators of the Chernobyl disaster, victims of political repression).

In order to increase the effectiveness of targeted social assistance, it is envisaged to gradually eliminate ineffective benefits and privileges in order to redistribute financial resources in favor of the most needy citizens. The Comprehensive System of Measures for Social Protection of the Population of the Republic of Belarus for 2000-2005, as well as measures for its implementation, are aimed at solving these problems.

In order to ensure favorable conditions for the development of the family and stabilize the birth rate, it is planned:

improvement of the system of state benefits to families raising children; development of social services for the family; promotion of all forms of entrepreneurial activity of families; improvement of tax policy in the interests of the family; conducting annual monitoring of the socio-economic potential of the family.

The amount of benefits will increase depending on the per capita budget of the subsistence minimum.

Youth policy is aimed at solving pressing problems of youth life – education, employment, improving housing conditions, supporting pupils and students, fostering patriotism and a conscientious attitude to work, increasing the prestige of youth labor in the real sector of the economy. This support consists primarily in providing young people with the opportunity to work and earn a living. A significant step in solving the problems of young people will be the increase in scholarships. It is planned to expand the construction of housing for young people, to improve and reduce the cost of nutrition for schoolchildren, students of vocational schools, students.

Work will continue on reforming the pension system of the republic on the basis of a rational combination of state and non-state pension insurance and budget financing. To this end, it is necessary to introduce individual (personalized) accounting of insurance premiums in the state social insurance system, and bring the level of pension provision in line with the budget of the subsistence minimum, and in the future – with the minimum consumer budget. Particular attention is paid to improving the criteria for determining the size of pensions and the mechanism for calculating them so that the size of pensions directly depends on the length of service and the amount of insurance premiums paid.

It is necessary to prepare and adopt a number of bills on pension insurance and provision:

“On the Basics of the Pension System in the Republic of Belarus”; “On State Pension Insurance”; and others, as well as legislation on the general principles and mechanisms for the organization of occupational pension systems and the principles of their interaction with state pension insurance.

The system of social services will be further developed, among the priorities of which is the task of meeting the specific needs of the most vulnerable segments of the population: the disabled, the elderly, children, low-income families. The development of a network of non-stationary social service institutions as the most economical and close to the real needs of the population remains a priority.

In the sphere of social services of the population, it is envisaged:

expansion of the types of services provided; establishment of territorial centres for social services for families, children, women, the elderly and the disabled in cities and districts, taking into account the need and availability of a serviced population; expansion of the resource base of social services on the basis of active involvement of the non-state sector, interaction with charitable and religious organizations.

The development of the socio-cultural complex in the Republic of Belarus is aimed at the formation of a spiritually rich and physically healthy person. It is envisaged to create the necessary conditions for ensuring universal accessibility and socially acceptable quality of basic social services (primarily medical care and general education), expanding the choice of their population.

State support in these important areas of society is aimed at providing the population with state minimum social standards, implementing measures to strengthen their material and technical base, as well as improving the status of their employees.