Aims are real, plans are ambitious
June’s Belarusian People’s Congress is not only the event of the month but probably of the year, defining state strategy for the coming five years. We’ll give a full report in our next issue but here focus on key matters for the agenda...
The subject of how widely all social groups are represented at the People’s Congress remains a burning issue. I can only say that, casting my eye over the hall, I saw all ages, and both genders. The Head of Minsk City Council of Deputies, Vasily Panasyuk, supported his observations with statistical figures, noting that half of the Minsk participants taking part are aged 41-60, while those under 31 years old account for 11 percent. Moreover, 12 delegates are currently at university and secondary specialised educational institutions, and four have been granted scholarships from the Special Fund of the President for the Support of Talented Youth. Representatives of working specialities will account for 5 percent of the total number of participants at the All-Belarusian People’s Congress, while those involved in engineering and technical specialities will account for 9 percent; 26 percent are representatives of the socio-cultural sphere. Those employed with law enforcement agencies will account for 7 percent of those attending, while 9 percent will be from public associations and political parties. Women will comprise almost a third of the elected deputies at the People’s Congress.
After making a substantive report on results so far, the Chairman of Minsk City Executive Committee, Andrey Shorets, answered questions from delegates, which primarily tackled the development of the capital. Mr. Shorets patiently noted that less housing will be built in the capital compared to previous years, as the President has requested that the city should stop expanding at its past rate. However, city infrastructure will continue to develop, with Minsk gaining more trade centres (although it already outstrips Warsaw, Vilnius and Madrid in this respect). More kindergartens and schools are planned, as are more polyclinics and leisure sites. “Around 60 percent of total expenditure from the city budget is being spent annually on the social sphere,” Mr. Shorets underlined.
As a journalist, I found the session fascinating, noting the sincerity of discussion and delegates’ unanimous agreement that we are on a wise socio-economic course, as begun several decades ago. In my opinion, Valery Borodenya, a member of the Standing Commission for Budget and Finance, for the House of Representatives at the National Assembly, was compelling in his statement that it’s important to ‘reinforce and strengthen existing advantages’. He asserted, “We must continue tackling demography, developing rural settlements, as well as small- and medium-sized businesses. We should ensure harmonious development of all forms of property and develop a concrete economy, while encouraging business initiative. I believe that the Belarusian nation will develop in an evolutionary manner, strengthening the authority of Belarus.”
Matter of worry for delegates
Regional delegates prepared for this major national event — thinking of questions they plan to discuss
More than 100 people represented the city of Vitebsk at the Belarusian People’s Congress. Anatoly Oladko, the Chief Doctor of Vitebsk Regional Clinical Hospital, is among them. He is convinced health care has some way to go in terms of development, saying,
“In recent times, our hospital has transformed into a powerful medical centre, with kidney transplants among our landmark events, of which we are proud. We were the first in the region to conduct them, in 2015. People realise that health care requires investment, since it’s impossible to develop high technologies without funds, and the state does render assistance. However, health insurance may be the best way forward. We’ve already begun moving in this direction and we need to discuss it further, with schemes developed carefully. It’s an emotive subject, especially since prompt treatment is known to produce better results, such as in the fitting of artificial limbs or undertaking a rare (and expensive) operation. Those who pay for their own private treatment, or import equipment from abroad, show better responses.”
Speaking of the real sector of the economy, the Director of Vitebsk’s Display Design Bureau, Alexander Voitenkov, adds,
“We’re preserving traditional niche in producing monitors able to operate under extreme conditions; our novelty is a 2.5m monitor (diagonal). We also have a 50-inch multimedia control panel, soon to launch at Lukoml hydro-electric station, for use in the CIS counter-terrorist training. We understand the need for product diversification and, accordingly, are liaising with the military and beyond. We’ve produced a micro-display system combined with a fire-fighter’s mask, also developing industrial and street monitors and tables which can be installed at public transport stops, supermarkets and administrative buildings. Our developments enjoy demand in neighbouring Russia and have been displayed at international shows, such as in Malaysia. We’re ready to work in cooperation with Belarusian and foreign scientists, launching innovations into production, with the idea of making money. We want to discuss ways of ensuring efficient production at the Belarusian People’s Congress.”
By Anatoly Pimenov