Updated at 11:30,08-12-2016

Lukashenka directs that compact and efficiently functioning government apparatus be created within six months

It is necessary to create a compact and efficiently functioning government apparatus in the country within half a year, Alyaksandr Lukashenka directed Friday, speaking at a government meeting on the optimization of the staff size and structure of government agencies.

"I think we can easily cut 25 percent [of government officials], thereby saving almost $130 million a year," the Belarusian leader said, according to the presidential press office. "This is good money. Well also add something out of the budget to what will be the fund that well be able to use to increase the pay of the remaining staff. Thats why lets completely settle this issue in the first half of the year, being guided by the target of reducing the staff size by 25 percent. The 25-percent reduction is a sacred thing. Afterwards we may forget about this issue because the number of government staff in our country is very small compared with other countries and their pay is trifling."

As Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich said at the meeting, the total number of government staff in Belarus, except army, state security and police officers, is 56,000, whereas Slovakia and Austria European countries comparable to Belarus in terms of size and population have 66,000 and 85.000 government staff, respectively. The number of government agencies employees in Belarus amounts to 3.6 percent of the total number of people employed in the economy against 6.5 percent in the Czech Republic and Portugal, 7.6 percent in Bulgaria, 7.8 percent in Hungary, 8.8 percent in Greece and 8.9 percent in Belgium, Mr. Myasnikovich noted. Spending on the maintenance of the government amounts to only 1.2 percent of Belarus GDP, a level several times lower than in a whole number of European countries, he said.

Mr. Myasnikovich said that the planned staff reductions in government agencies would affect 13,000 employees, or about 40,000 people if their family members were taken into account, and would save the government an estimated one trillion rubels a year, according to the finance ministry.