Major questions on agenda

Delegates from all regions have been chosen to take part in 5th Belarusian People’s Congress, due to take place in Minsk on June 22nd-23rd
The agenda of the forum is now being set. Minsk recently hosted the Minsk City Congress of Delegates, which drew up a list of issues for discussion at the People’s Congress. Overseen by the Chair of the CEC, Lidia Yermoshina, Deputy Prime Minister Natalia Kochanova, the Aide to the President and Chief Inspector for Minsk, Alexander Yakobson, the Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee, Andrey Shorets, and famous cyclist and eight-time world champion Natalia Tsilinskaya, it’s clear the event enjoyed a high profile. The delegation from Minsk is the most numerous, with 400 people representing the capital at the Congress.

The subject of how widely all social groups are represented at people’s congresses 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 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 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.”

By Alexander Benkovsky
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