When will Belarusian motorists start to block roads?
Belarus is a transit state. Logic suggests that the more vehicles in this country and the more liberal laws for their acquisition and use are, the more it contributes to the development of the economy.
Is this true for Belarus? Or on the contrary, does the government prefer to live for today and make a profit on motorists?
Barys Zhaliba, Doctor of Economic Sciences, answers questions of Charter97.org.
- Recently, motorists have had a heated discussion about whether it is necessary to tie a road tax to a technical inspection or it must be a separate monthly payment. What do you think about it?
- I think that there should be no road tax for Belarusians. Why is it needed? Funds raised on the road tax go to the construction and maintenance of roads. In advanced countries, this tax is already included in the price of gasoline or diesel fuel. This solves all transport problems. I think we should do the same.
If, for some reason, this tax is not completely abolished, it is unequivocally that it should not be tied to technical characteristics of a vehicle, the engine volume, but to the mileage, to how much gasoline the owner of the vehicle spent.
Under the Belarusian system, the most vulnerable groups of the population, for example, pensioners, fall under the tax strike. They have a small pension, they do not travel much - and the tax amount is the same for everyone. This is at least unfair.
Therefore, it would be prudent to abolish the road tax by "melting it down" in the cost of gasoline. Who drives more, those will be the more involved in their repair and construction.
- Does the Belarusian system of automobile duties - customs clearance, road tax, insurance - comply with the transit geographical status of the country?
- Definitely, this system should be simplified as much as possible.
Let's take the basic moment: in order to import a vehicle from the West, it is necessary to pay a huge duty for customs clearance. It's a few thousand dollars.
I wonder why they equate the Belarusian customs duties with the Russian ones? Why did they follow the neighbors? Do Russians need duties to protect their car factory in Togliatti? Why then should the Belarusians overpay getting already lower salaries?
These draconian duties are a blow to the future of Belarusian car owners. The most important thing for us, as for a transit country, is to go back to those customs duties on cars that were before 2011. The car should be available again.
- To the north of Belarus, 180 km from Minsk, there is an automobile Klondike - Lithuania with its famous car markets in Vilnius and Kaunas. Why should Belarusians go for spare parts and tires to Lithuania to save money? Why don't we have such prices for spare parts?
- This is a sartorial statement of our economy as a whole, not only that part of the market car owners are interested in. Artificial high prices concern everything in our country. Shopping in Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine and even Russia has become a proverbial story.
This is a general consequence of the low efficiency of the economy. If everything is expensive in the country, and salaries are lower than those of neighbors, this indicates the "ability" to manage the economy as a whole.
The situation will remain the same for motorists, everything requires reforms. Let's take prices for medicines: they are much lower in Poland and Lithuania. Even the Minister of Health was forced to admit it. But, as usual, it ended up with talks only. And Belarusians still go for medicines to Poland, where they are 1.5-2 times cheaper.
- Recently, the head of "Motovelo" Mikalai Ladutska proposed to introduce a recycling fee for bicycles and motorcycles. How would you comment on this?
- Here we observe the birth of other Belarusian "know-how". I can't understand why it was needed.
Of course, he is trying to revive Motovelo which does not withstand competition with products from China and Russia, but the introduction of a new fee, on the contrary, will only increase the price of products. Ladutska ought to look for a method how to make our bicycles cheaper.
Look at the countries beyond the western border of Belarus: the whole of Europe goes in for cycling. In Germany, all cities are flooded with bicycles, especially in the center. They have their own parking lots and developed infrastructure.
This all contribute to the nation, the environment, a comfortable life of large cities. In our country officials come up with a tax on bicyclists.
To put it mildly, Ladutska failed to think before saying: bicycles should become cheaper as soon as possible. And it would be better for Motovelo to look for a normal investor or to switch specialty and close down.
- New "surprises" for Belarusian drivers on the part of the traffic police appear with enviable regularity. And what good could they do to make life of motorists easier?
- Given the upcoming holidays, the traffic police could make our drivers a gift. Somehow they could reduce fines. But the main thing is not to hide, and to transfer to the principle of patrolling, as it is done in developed countries. Only few times I saw our methods were practiced there, usually they are just on a patrol between cities. Let our traffic police officers make a gift both for themselves and drivers, instead of standing in the cold.
In my opinion, we need to automate the work of the traffic police. Of course, many people are angry about trail cameras and "letters of happiness". They just need to comply with the speed limit. If there is automatics, both traffic police officers and drivers will become more disciplined.