Belarus President makes new appointments

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to reform the Belarus President Administration when he appointed the new head and first deputy head of the Belarus President Administration on 21 December.

Natalya Kochanova was appointed Head of the Belarus President Administration. Maxim Ryzhenkov was appointed First Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration.

“First, I would like to say one thing. I have read the stories, speculations or opinions (I do not know how to call them properly) in mass media regarding the appointments in the Belarus President Administration. I also took note of the proposals from pro-opposition citizens, the so-called opposition, and from representatives of the ‘fifth column’. I heard all the proposals and, of course, took them into account when considering the candidates for these positions. Nevertheless, my decision is as follows,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Natalia Kochanova is an experienced civil servant and an ardent supporter of the state policy. “She has been working at the local level. It is very important for me,” the head of state said.

In his words, the Belarus President Administration needs an attentive flexible person for spearheading the ongoing processes and solving pending issues. “When working in the government, you have seen what needs to be done and what should not be done. Anyway, you will use and rely on your experience of work in the government,” the President said addressing Natalia Kochanova.

The head of state also praised the organizing skills of Maxim Ryzhenkov in spite of certain failures in sport. “Of course, it is not your fault. I like your responsibility, commitment and your energy,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President believes that the joint work of Natalia Kochanova and Maxim Ryzhenkov will be productive.

Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the importance of the ideological component in the work of the Belarus President Administration. “Culture, sport, and healthcare represent the main foundation of our ideology,” he remarked. Concrete actions in specific areas will be in focus instead of discussions in mass media although honest and objective discussions are necessary, too.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded about his instructions to cut down on red tape and optimize the state machine. “The Belarus President Administration should set an example. We need to reform the agency bearing in mind the fact that these people represent the key staff of the president,” said the head of state.

“Let me emphasize once again that red tape reduction should be the key concern of the Belarus President Administration. Ideology, human resources, expert evaluation of economic ideas, legal considerations involved in the president’s work. In addition to interaction with branches of power — the judicial power, the legislative power, and the banking industry — via aides. Possibly something else,” added the President.

Aleksandr Lukashenko described the Belarus President Administration’s handling of requests and petitions submitted by citizens as poor. “We work like in Soviet times. It is understandable that the Administration is overburdened with these petitions because people contact the Administration as the last resort,” he remarked. “And just look at how the petitions are handled! Just like in Soviet times we mainly forward the complaints to those the citizens complain about.”

“If a person contacts us and we alone can and are to resolve the problem, we cannot bounce the petition. Please, pay serious attention to the matter. If necessary, replace all the personnel that deal with this bureaucratic work,” the head of state stressed.

The President noted that the Administration should be reformed in a calm and wise manner. Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned renovation as the core idea behind the reform. Employing younger people is not the idea because it is important to preserve professional and capable personnel. “Those, who can work, may come to work and offer their services even at 80 years of age. I am ready to accept them. If a young person can do the work, they are welcome, too. We’ll find work for them,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the new top-ranking officials of the Belarus President Administration to act fast and submit proposals on renovating the agency. Later on the relevant matters will be discussed at a major government conference involving the head of state.

“We cannot do without this refreshment. Only professional, educated, and hardworking people will remain in the administration. The personnel will have to show good results to occupy high positions. This refreshment should help raise the status of civil servants to a very high level,” the Belarusian leader said.

“There should not be more civil servants than we need. This apparatus is overstaffed today. Remaining civil servants, just like the military personnel, should have the highest status. The country needs an optimal minimum of civil servants. The state apparatus should not be overstaffed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

According to the President, he has been informed that Belarus has the smallest and the most optimal number of civil servants per capita in the world. “But I see that we can continue the optimization. We planned to reduce the personnel numbers by 50%. It is very difficult at the initial stage. The government suggests reducing the personnel numbers by 30% or even 33-35%, and I have sent these documents to you today. This is a good step at this stage,” he said.

The head of state remarked that downsizing the state apparatus is not the end in itself. The main thing is that it is bad to have an excessive number of civil servants in the country. It is essential to optimize corresponding functions, and delegate corresponding authorities to enterprises, Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President also reminded about his instruction to raise the average salary in Belarus to $500 in equivalent in Belarus next year. “Let me emphasize once again: I want the average salary next year to be as large as $500 in equivalent. It must be done regardless of the difficulties. It must be done whatever it takes,” the Belarusian leader demanded. “We will not be able to avoid it. So let’s work for the benefit of the people. Let’s support them.”

The head of state also drew attention to the need to get rid of excessive inspections of private companies and to streamline regulatory standards in various areas.