Updated at 17:46,10-07-2018

Belarus parliament needs only 40 minutes to pass budget draft in first reading

Zmicier Lukashuk, Euroradio

Belarus parliament needs only 40 minutes to pass budget draft in first reading
Photo: Zmicier Lukashuk
On October 3, the deputies to the House of Representatives began to review the country's budget draft for 2017. On the agenda were not less 19 bills, with the budget draft at the very end of the "queue" after various ratifications. The reason was that the key presenters were busy attending a meeting with the president on the talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Finance Minister Uladzimir Amaryn needed only 30 minutes to make a presentation of the draft, quickly going through the crude oil cost at $35 per barrel and inflation at 15-17%…

The majority of the deputies seemed to be listening to the minister's presentation with just one ear. Some simply turned to a fellow MP discussing matters apparently more important to them. It became clear very quickly that hot debates were not going to follow. When the speaker of the lower house Uladzimir Andreichanka invited the deputies to pose questions to the minister, only one MP returned the call. Uladzislau Shchepau asked if the duties were to be raised for craftwork artists and agro-tourism farmsteds and why the paragraph about the distribution of excessive profit was removed.

Belarus parliament needs only 40 minutes to pass budget draft in first reading

The answer from the minister was short that the taxes would not be raised and that there was no need to describe the excessive profits in detail. No more questions followed.

“It is proof we worked well in the committees. There were many questions in the 'zero reading," says the speaker with a hint of satisfaction.

Voting results: 98 — in favor; 1 — against; 5 did not vote. All in all, everything was done within about 40 minutes.

Belarus parliament needs only 40 minutes to pass budget draft in first reading

I am asking the deputies if they worked so hard in the committees that mo more questions were left indeed.

“The interested deputies were able to ask questions to Finance Minister and Vice Finance Minister four times. Today, we had the first reading but the fourth meeting with the Council of Ministers. Hence, no more questions. Everything was preperly discussed many times!” explains Valery Baradzenya.

MP Volha Palityka admits she filed her written suggestions to the Council of Ministers. Since they were talen into consideration, she had no more questions.

“There were many sessions and meetings within the committees followed by the zero reading where many questions were raised and asked. Perhaps, that's why today's session was not very interesting”, said Volha Palityka.

Just to remind, journalists were not allowed inside the meeting during the 'zero reading.' Perhaps, they would be too embarrassed to ask their questions with reporters present.

Euroradio asked economist Leanid Zaika if he maybe had some questions on the budget draft. He said he would like to get answers to two questions:

“This budget has 15 billion less for expenditures than in 2014. The question is what to do next. The second questions is why the government has not announced a 10-percent salary cut for all members of the government and apparatus like the did for example in the Kremlin."

Photo: Zmicier Lukashuk