In 2018, there was no significant redistribution of powers in the local government system. In turn, local elections were held in the traditional way, fully controlled by the Belarusian leadership mode, which provided for the depoliticization of the population and maintained the previously known composition of the councils. As a result, almost none of the alternative candidates got into the councils of deputies. However, the authorities continue to introduce such a form of self-organization of citizens as public local self-government bodies (PCA) to relieve tension on the ground and control the grassroots activity of residents. The authorities also see the local authorities as an additional mechanism to attract funds from local residents and international programs (mainly the European Union and UNDP). The economic incapacity of the local vertical of power, which is increasingly criticized by the President, is obvious. Local managers failed to implement a pilot project at an acceptable level in Orsa, despite the mobilization efforts of the Republican leadership.

Анотація наукової статті з соціальної та економічної географії, автор наукової роботи - Dmitry Kukhlei


Область наук:

  • Соціальна та економічна географія

  • Рік видавництва: 2019


    Журнал: білоруський щорічник


    Наукова стаття на тему 'LOCAL AUTHORITIES: ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY AND CAUTIOUS EXPANSION OF CITIZENS' SELF-ORGANIZATION '

    Текст наукової роботи на тему «LOCAL AUTHORITIES: ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY AND CAUTIOUS EXPANSION OF CITIZENS 'SELF-ORGANIZATION»

    ?LOCAL AuTHORITIES: ECONOMIC INEFFICIENCY AND CAuTIOuS ExPANSION

    of citizens 'self-organization

    Dmitry Kukhlei

    Summary

    In 2018, there was no significant redistribution of powers in the local government system. In turn, local elections were held in the traditional way, fully controlled by the Belarusian leadership mode, which provided for the depoliticization of the population and maintained the previously known composition of the councils. As a result, almost none of the alternative candidates got into the councils of deputies.

    However, the authorities continue to introduce such a form of self-organization of citizens as public local self-government bodies (PCA) to relieve tension on the ground and control the grassroots activity of residents. The authorities also see the local authorities as an additional mechanism to attract funds from local residents and international programs (mainly the European Union and UNDP). The economic incapacity of the local vertical of power, which is increasingly criticized by the President, is obvious. Local managers failed to implement a pilot project at an acceptable level in Orsa, despite the mobilization efforts of the Republican leadership.

    Trends:

    • Personnel reshuffle and anti-corruption prosecution remain the main mechanisms for updating local leadership;

    • Local authorities are interested in stimulating the activity of local communities and co-financing the costs of improvement;

    • Local authorities are looking for additional sources of funding through international cooperation.

    Belarusian alternative to elections: personnel rotation and anti-corruption prosecution

    The head of state uses a number of mechanisms to ensure the loyalty and manageability of the local nomenclature, such as personnel rotation, anti-corruption prosecution and presidential inspectors.

    Personnel rotation is a certain alternative to the elections of the city leadership and allows President Lukashenko to maintain

    the vertical of power in a mobilized state. Local elections in 2018 once again demonstrated full control of the vertical of power and the Republican authorities over the results of the elections. They were not unexpected: no representative of the opposition parties went to the regional or basic level councils, except for the peripheral village councils.

    However, during four years, or during the term of one convocation of local councils, thanks to the personnel policy of President Lukashenko, there is almost a complete rotation of the local vertical.

    In 2018, most of the personnel changes affected the district leadership in Mahiliou and Homiel regions, which have the worst socio-economic indicators, as well as Minsk region. At the end of local elections 11 chairpersons of district executive committees were replaced. In total, during the year, personnel changes affected the leadership of 28 administrative territorial units of the basic level, or about 22% of the total number of district executive committees (118) and city executive committees (10). These figures almost correspond to the previous year, when 30 chairpersons of district executive committees had been replaced after the "anti-parasite" protests.

    The change in the leadership of the executive committees affected the composition of deputies in Brest, Viciebsk, Homiel, Mahiliou and Minsk. Also, the chairperson of Minsk city executive committee was replaced, the discontent of whom grew because of plans to compact the city and promote investors against the interests of local residents.

    Personnel policy in the regions is largely determined by agreements between local elites and is only agreed by the President. Usually the rotation or displacement of local officials on the career ladder takes place between the different areas within the same region, with a few exceptions. Often there is a movement of personnel horizontally within the region: the chairpersons of the executive committees change their posts to a similar one but in a different area.

    Since the second half of 2018, the head of state has actually begun preparing local authorities for presidential and parliamentary campaigns, and because of personnel changes, he tries to motivate the vertical of power to achieve

    political objectives. Selective prosecution of the leadership of the local vertical of power continues. In October almost simultaneously criminal cases against the heads of Puhavicy district and the city of Zodzina on charges of corruption were filed.

    Back in 2017, President Lukashenko noted the need to increase the role of the institute of regional assistant - inspectors in the regions and the capital, which indicates the growing fears of senior management about the loyalty and controllability of the local vertical of power. The presidential inspectors are responsible for personnel policy in their regions and serve as an additional control mechanism over regional and local authorities.

    Local economy: managing paralysis of the vertical of power

    In the situation of decreasing resources of the state, the local vertical of power is not able to ensure the economic development of its regions, including increasing the efficiency of state enterprises.

    In 2018, local authorities could not perform the tasks in the framework of a demonstration pilot project in Orsa on re-industrialization, in fact, despite manual control of the region by the Republican leadership. The President stressed the political importance of the Orsa project. In August, the responsibility for its implementation was transferred from the government of the Presidential administration to the Presidential administration and the state control.

    Over the past five years, budget expenditures and revenues have been centralized. This could be, among other things, due to the failures of regional vertical managers and the reduced resources of the state, as well as the result of anti-corruption measures of senior management against local authorities. Thus, local budget revenues in 2014 amounted to 58.4%, and in 2017 - only 52.0% of the consolidated budget. In 2015 року, the share of local budget expenditures amounted to almost 55.0% of the consolidated budget, while in 2018 this ratio was 52.3% (Table 1).

    Table 1. Expenditures of the Republican and local budgets, 2015- 201 812

    20151 2016 2017 2018

    Consolidated budget, BYN billion 25.040 27.332 28.727 34.080

    Local budgets, BYN billion 13.760 15.000 16.213 17.8242

    The share of own income in the structure of local budgets is insignificant, but it is increasing (Table 2). At the same time, the eastern regions receive the largest transfers from the Republican budget. The vast majority of regions where transfers from the national budget account for 60 to 80% of the revenue, are in Homiel, Mahiliou and Viciebsk regions: 11, 11 and 5 regions, respectively (of the total number of the country - 29 units) . The most self-sufficient is the budget of Minsk: almost 99% of the revenue is formed by its own income.

    Table 2. Share of own income in the structure of local budgets, 2016-20183

    2016 2017 2018

    % Of own income of local budgets 78.8 79.6 79.73

    In recent years, the debts of local authorities have begun to grow (Table 3). Moreover, a significant part of the loans accounted for foreign currency - 40.5%, or BYN 2025.5 million. Most likely, this increase in borrowing is due to the desire of the Republican authorities to adjust the statistics and reduce the debt burden on the Republican budget, as well as with modernization projects in the regions at the expense of Chinese loans.

    The reduction of expenditures of the Republican budget on the agricultural sector continues (Table 4). This time the reduction is not as large as in the previous two years, but given

    Taking into account the denomination of the Belarusian ruble. «Бюлетень про виконання консолідованого і республіканського бюджету.» Міністерство фінансів Республіки Білорусь, 01 Oct. 2018, http://www.minfin.gov. by / upload / bp / bulletin_cons / 2018_3 / 2018_3.pdf. At the end of 9 months of 2018.

    the increase in budget expenditures, the share of the agricultural sector continues to decrease. This reinforces the trend of further reducing the influence of agro-barons and rural areas on the leadership of the state.

    Table 3. Local government and self-government debt, BYN mln4

    Year Area 2015 2016 2017 20184

    Brest region 482.9 419.1 307.7 300.6

    Viciebsk region 814.4 1061.2 967.6 957.6

    Homiel region 448.8 409.0 906.4 834.0

    Hrodna region 693.7 670.2 823.2 781.1

    Mahilio region 736.6 683.1 759.1 711.1

    Minsk region 846.2 1338.5 1203.1 1143.5

    Minsk 506.8 462.1 284.3 279.5

    Total 4529.4 5043.2 5251.4 5007.4

    Table 4. Expenditures on agriculture in the national budget, 2016-20195

    2016 2017 2018 20195

    Amount, BYN 951,469,917 719,799,174 511,609,648 499,572,361

    % Of Republican budget expenditures 5.8 4.3 2.6 2.3

    It should be noted that the local authorities spent about 5% of the local budget expenditures on agriculture.

    Village councils: fifth wheel of a coach

    Village councils still have a minimum of authority, as evidenced by the volume of revenues and expenditures of their budgets. The composition of budget revenues of different levels remains unchanged in the last three years: about 48% - regional, 51% - basic and 1% - primary. However, the share of deputies of village

    At the end of 9 months of 2018.

    «Витрати республіканського бюджету за функціональною класифікацією видатків бюджету за розділами, підрозділами і видами витрат. Додаток № 3 до Закону Республіки Білорусь "Про республіканський бюджет на 2019 рік". » Міністерство фінансів Республіки Білорусь, 19 Dec. 2018, http://www.minfin.gov.by/upload/ bp / project / attachment% 203.pdf.

    councils is almost 75% of the total number of deputies. Out of 18,111 deputy mandates 13,565 belong to the primary level: village councils, settlement councils and councils of the towns of regional submission.

    The issue of the abolition of the primary level of local government has been repeatedly voiced by the leadership of the Central Election Commission, which would reduce the cost of local elections. No less important is the fact that it would save the local organizers of election campaigns from the need to search for candidates for vacant seats in the village councils, who are already difficult to find due to the rural depopulation. Now less than 22% of the population lives in rural areas. However, President Lukashenka still prefers not to put additional stress on the vertical of power and keeps the current structure of the local government system.

    Cautious support for local initiatives and self-government

    The authorities demonstrate their readiness to develop more actively the bodies of public territorial self-government (BPTSG). This allows removing some strain on the budget for improvement of house adjoining territories and maintenance of houses. In addition, the chairpersons of the BPTSG are an additional link of communication between the authorities and residents, which should reduce social tensions. The BPTSG is also an additional mechanism for monitoring public sentiment in the situation of the 'sleeping' institute of local elections.

    BPTSG actually do not have authority power, and that is why the activity of citizens within this institution does not pose a threat to the monopoly of local (and indirectly Republican) leadership and is considered as acceptable. Sources of funding for initiatives under this form of local government are:

    • Own funds of residents or co-financing;

    • Grants of the European Union;

    • Local government resources.

    There is some expansion of the powers and responsibilities of local authorities in the social sphere. Thus, according to the amendments to the law on local government and self-

    government, the responsibility of councils and executive committees in the field of demographic security, prevention of disability and rehabilitation of persons with disabilities has been increased.6

    Increased international activity

    The Belarusian leadership and the local authorities express interest in establishing closer cooperation with their peers from EU countries. This allows attracting additional funds within the framework of the EU grant assistance for the development of regions. At the same time, targeted initiatives within the framework of international cooperation and assistance can lead to a gradual transformation of relations within the local government system.

    The Belarusian power vertical is becoming more open to contacts with colleagues from the European Union to exchange experience in the development of local self-government7. At the same time, the main emphasis in the contacts between the local authorities of Belarus and the governments of EU countries is on economic relations and trade.

    Local authorities continue to participate in the EU programs for the development of local communities. In general, project activities are limited to environmental or cultural initiatives. At the same time, participation in the project activities of local authorities together with representatives of civil society is a prerequisite for the allocation of funds. At the same time, along with the increase in funds allocated to local authorities and communities in the framework of international programs, the Belarusian leadership retains strict control over the vertical distribution of aid. Most often, civil society is represented in the projects of the so-called GoNGO.

    «Закон Республіки Білорусь від 09.01.2018 № 91-3" Про внесення змін і доповнень до деяких законів Республіки Білорусь ".» Національно-правової інтернет-портал Республіки Білорусь, 18 Jan. 2018, http://pravo.by/document/?guid=12551&p0 = H11800091&p1 = 1. "Што неабходна для далейшага развщця мясцовага самаюра-вання у Білорусь ^?" Звязда, 21 Dec. 2018, http://zviazda.by/be/ news / 20181220/1545316660-shto-neabhodna-dlya-daleyshaga-razviccya-myascovaga-samakiravannya-u.

    At the local level, international assistance is gradually changing the way of the local authorities to management policy. In 2018, there were about 140 initiatives under the program of support of Belarus by the Federal government of Germany for sustainable development of local communities. The program encourages local authorities to engage more with citizens and civil society organizations.

    The conditionality of the EU programs forces the vertical of power to a dialogue with individual public organizations. The authorities work more closely with the "Leu Sapieha Foundation" in order to get the support of western donors.

    Official Minsk has not yet joined the European Charter of Local Self-government, which significantly limits the participation of local authorities in the grant programs of the European Commission. According to the chairperson of Hrodna regional Association of Local Councils (HRALC) Anatoly Nikitin, this was the main reason for the low scores in the EU competitions, to which HRALC members submitted projects for EUR 200,0008. Regional authorities begin to create an appropriate information agenda that would facilitate access to the Charter and the use of European practices in Belarusian conditions, such as the Association of Local Councils (ALC).

    Associations of local councils: additional mechanism for raising grant funds

    The authorities have planned to create a National Association of Local Authorities (NALA), which increases the chances of attracting additional funds for EU grant programs. Chairperson of the Council of the Republic Mikhail Myasnikovich announced that the conference on education of NALA is planned for April 20 199. The Republican authorities do not hide that contacts with

    "Rpo? 3eHCKafl aS ^ acHaa aca ^ i ^ bw ma ^ OBBIX caBeTay ^ nyTaTay nambipae mтaреcвI." 3eH3da, 30 Nov. 2018, http://zviazda.by/be/ news / 20181220/1545316660-shto-neabhodna-dlya-daleyshaga-razviccya-myascovaga-samakiravannya-u.

    "Ha ^ MHa ^ bHyro aca ^ i ^ biro Mflc ^ Bara caMaKipaBaHHfl n ^ aнуeццa cTBapb ^ B y Ee ^ apyci." Ee ^ TA, 11 Dec. 2018, https://blr.belta.by/

    western partners and pragmatic factors, first of all the prospects of receiving financial assistance from the European Union, influenced the authorities 'desire to form NALA (as well as the ALC in general). However, no new ALC was created in 2018. Hrodna and Mahiliou regional associations were established in 2015.

    At the same time, the creation of the ALC on a territorial basis carries the risk of increasing tension between the regions as a result of the struggle for limited resources allocated from the state budget. It is possible to create multi-level ALC by the authorities: at the interregional level (between regions), between the municipalities of the basic (district), as well as the primary (village councils) level.

    ALC is considered as an additional mechanism for:

    • Improvement of personnel training, retraining or advanced training for local administrations and local governments;

    • Coordination of deputies 'work in legal, organizational, financial and economic activities;

    • Interregional cooperation and exchange of experience between local councils of Belarus and foreign governments;

    • Raising funds for international assistance.

    ALC can also act as a pressure mechanism on the Republican authorities, including the reduction of the negative consequences of unpopular initiatives that cause discontent and protests of citizens. In turn, the Republican authorities expect to use the Association to discuss and adjust the bills. It will also reduce the possibility of erroneous decisions and extend the responsibility for public policy to a wider range of institutions of power and not just to the President and the government.

    Conclusion

    updating the vertical management in the Belarusian regions will continue due to personnel rotation and movement of vertical officials to similar positions within their area. These personnel movements will take place before the parliamentary and

    poHtics / view / natsyjanalnuju-asatsyjatsyju-mjastsovaga-samakiravannja-planuetstsa-stvaryts-u-belarusi-74339-2018 /.

    presidential elections, in the run-up to which the Belarusian leadership is likely to make a complete renovation or rotation in the districts.

    The Republican leadership will continue to strengthen control over the personnel policy of the regions with the help of presidential inspectors, but the autonomy of the local nomenclature in determining the management of districts and cities will remain.

    The conditionality of support from the EU will push the Belarusian authorities to gradual and controlled expansion of the use of European norms and practices on local self-government in Belarus. The country's leadership has to make certain concessions in order to attract additional funds to the regions and reduce the burden on the budget.

    The authorities manage to adjust and adapt EU support to the Belarusian conditions successfully. The interest of the local vertical of power and the GoNGO created by it will also influence the desire to continue cooperation with European partners.


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