Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Andrei Kobyakov, Natalia Petkevich

    On 3 January President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko held a working meeting with head of the Belarus President Administration Andrei Kobyakov and Aide to the President Natalia Petkevich. Andrei Kobyakov and Natalia Petkevich head a commission on optimization of structure, staff and functions of government agencies. The commission was established in October 2012.

    The commission also comprises a number of senior officials. The commission was instructed to submit optimization proposals to the President by 30 December 2012. During the working meeting the parties discussed preliminary findings of the commission. The matters will be discussed in greater detail later.

    “We have agreed that the staff reduction will make 25% or more. It is high time we did that. If we talk about cutting red tape, we need to reduce the number of officials. If there are many officials, they will find what to do and will do unnecessary things, thus contributing to bigger bureaucracy. On the other hand, things should not be done automatically, because this can affect public administration. There are certain established laws; they might be subjective, but they are time-tested. We need to have a clear idea how many people should be left to maintain efficient operation of an organization,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The President also pointed out that the 25% staff reduction target is an average indicator: “We should not fire officials in organizations where they are badly needed and where staff reduction can lead to human resources deficit.” The President mentioned regional executive committees which are assuming increasingly more tasks related to local administration, although they do not have a lot of employees. “Therefore we should be careful and prudent. At the same time I get information (I have said about it before) that some of our local officials are turning into feudal lords. Maybe, this has little to do with staff reduction, but is more about efficiency of our control over these agencies, subdivisions and specific people. I will keep it in mind, but you will have to deal with it directly,” the President said.

    “In other words, let us look once again at these things. I have received your suggestions and approve them at large. However, certain proposals need additional consideration,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    Talking about a possibility to reduce personnel at some ministries or agencies, the President underlined that the personnel reduction there should be approached very carefully, without any haste: “As for optimization of certain agencies, ministries, and bodies, to be honest, I am not ready to make decisions about it. I need to consult with the government and others once again,” the head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned the proposal to reduce the staff in the Trade Ministry. “This might make sense if we proceed from purely market reasons. But on the other hand, what is the biggest concern of people today? The issues related to trade. Therefore, we should rather refocus the Trade Ministry on addressing specific issues that distress our people,” the President suggested.

    There are proposals to reduce the Housing and Utilities Ministry. The head of state noted that “this matter has been put on the agenda more than once”, however this ministry has the biggest number of issues that concern our people.

    “So let us take our time with staff reduction at these ministries. I will say it again: we need to put this speculative market reasoning aside and proceed from specific targets and circumstances in our country. If ministries are not efficient, including the above-mentioned ones (I agree with you about it; they still cannot fully find their niche). Therefore we should give them tasks to make them move and address the issues that upset our people today.