19 June 2018, Tuesday, 23:02

What Is Done to Belarusians' Money?


It is better to keep your money away from greedy officials.

On Tuesday, the non-state Kosht Urada project voiced amazing figures. It turns out that Belarus loses $600-800 million a year due to corruption when state procurements. Such sums annually disappear in hands of Lukashenka's officials who deal only with one of numerous "spheres of interest" of the Belarusian state.

What is an overall extent of corruption in the country? What else is done to Belarusians' money?

Uladzimir Kavalkin: There are three main sources for corrupt officials in the country

- The easiest way to deal with figures obtained as a result of precise methods of research, the head of Kosht Urada project Uladzimir Kavalkin told Charter97.org. - These 600-800 million dollars a year are resulting from the study of the international organization Transparency International. It has been established that 20-25% of all allocated funds of the budget go to government officials in countries with a level of corruption like in Belarus. Comparing this with the data on state procurements in our country, we get an average figure of $700 million a year. This is, as they say, the tip of the iceberg.

As for corruption in general, it is stimulated by a disproportionately "bloated" Belarusian public sector numerous financial flows go through. Officials have the exclusive right to make important decisions on these flows and, in plain English, split money. State procurement is one of the sectors of the state economy where the appetite of a corrupt official can wake up.

The second point is the state distribution of land, hunting lands, rivers, and other natural resources for rent, private use, or for construction. The scope for corruption here is great, the rates and sums for stakeholders are high.

The third point is numerous permissive and prohibitive procedures: acquisition of licences, filing various declarations, tax accounting, goods transfer across the border. Here, Belarusian officials are given a large "freedom": each of them can, at his sole discretion, allow or forbid something. Or simply "do not notice" violations or the quantity of goods. In this sphere, an official has an interest in "monetizing" his position.

Thus, in Belarus there are three main "grounds" for corrupt officials: public procurement, the redistribution of large state assets and permissive-prohibitive activity. The exact amount of money that is involved in all three areas requires a separate study, but if we take state procurement, the figures are very impressive.

Natallia Rabava: Officials extremely inefficiently hold the people's purse strings

"Everywhereness" of the Belarusian state system encourages officials to corruption, director of SYMPA school of public administration for managers Natallia Rabava believes. - Since the state authority is in charge of almost everything, starting from pencils to complex medical equipment - it is getting much easier to make a good hand of the same state procurements.

I guess you can agree that it is much harder to pull a scheme when you're entitled only to buy paper, pens and other stationary for yourself. It can be checked somehow. But when officials of the country are "responsible" for high-tech, innovative projects, purchase of complex and little-known equipment; the opportunity to "cheat" with budgetary money increases sharply.

The very Belarusian system where everything is ultimately regulated and much depends on a decision of a bureaucrat creates opportunities for the human factor to "prove oneself" and take the way of corruption. When economic decisions are made not by a businessman working with his money, but by an official who manages ours, he is guided by his motives.

His "goal" is to quietly get a maximum profit at the very beginning of the transaction. The Belarusian political system which is maximally closed contributes to this.

An official extremely inefficiently controls other people's money and does it much less efficiently than an owner could do. It has recently become the problem of a small- and mid-sized business which clearly understands that it's better to keep its money from greedy Belarusian officials as far as possible. The corruption among officials takes 3-4 position in the list of problems of entrepreneurs.