Authorities do not believe driving schools are unprofitable

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.