Authorities do not believe driving schools are unprofitable

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Minsk's driving schools press
for an increase in instruction fees to at least 1.5 million rubels ($700) but
cannot prove to authorities that this is necessary.

Uladzimir
Tamkovich, head of the Autaprava driving school, says he needs money to hire
more instructors. "I have seven vacancies. Our students pay 960,000 rubels
plus the fuel bill, a total of 1,150,000 rubels [$542]. But everything -- from
fuel to rent -- has become more expensive. You know about inflation. I believe
the fee should rise to 1.6 million so that we can pay the rent and decent
salaries to instructors," he told Euroradio.

Driving
schools need to obtain permission from the city government's price committee to
hike rates.

An official
with the Minsk City Executive Committee explained that if a driving school
operates with profits, permission is not usually granted.

Zoya Usevaladauna, head of the Signal Plus driving schools, says she intends to
approach the committee for permission soon. She notes that officials may
authorize a small increase of no more than 100,000 rubels.

Atlant M, a
foreign-owned school, does not need permission to revise rates. It charges 2.2
million [rubels ($1037) per customer.

"We
teach well and costs are higher. If students in all other schools must log up
to 15 kilometers,
our trainees log at least 15
kilometers," a school instructor explained to
Euroradio.

Meanwhile, all schools, including Atlant M, have waiting lists. The
school headmasters say that higher fees would not reduce applicant numbers, but
would improve instruction quality.