No word about students and pensioners in president’s draft decree on benefits

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A special commission will have to be set up to review up to 15 different references in order to get a targeted assistance of Br45,000 ($22).

Effective from December 17, only 360,000 people out of previously 5 million will continue to receive social benefits. The authors of the draft decree on the targeted social aid managed to calculate how many people would be affected by fires, floods and other calamities and how much money they would be paid in compensations.

Previously, Belarus spent Br160 billion to pay out social benefits. The draft budget envisaged Br60 billion to be spent on the targeted social assistance. The president’s draft decree talks about Br34.8 billion allocated for this purpose. The difference is huge. To clear up the figures, the European Radio for Belarus asked a person who saw these both documents to explain, but got confused even further.

People whose income does not exceed 120 percent of the living minimum are eligible for a one-off financial assistance in the course of one year. The living minimum budget today is Br185,670. Payments for social assistance could vary from Br92,000 to Br92 million. However, the income amount is not the only condition for those who want to apply for the targeted social assistance. Maryna Kulikova, a journalist with the Belarusy i Rynak newspaper who saw the draft decree, says one has to prove the need for assistance.

“Only those in dire straits will be able to receive this assistance. The list of dire straits includes the loss of job due to age or disablement, the need to receive urgent medical services, natural calamities, catastrophes, fires and other circumstances that require material assistance,” Maryna Kulikova said.

A special commission comprising the officials from the local executive authorities and local council is to decide whether or not to provide assistance.

Those whose monthly income is less than Br185,000 are eligible for the monthly assistance of just Br45,000. Jobless currently get the same amount of assistance. The targeted monthly assistance can be received only within six months. They could also extend it to one year, but you are expected to prove the need for it in front of the official commission. It is promised that commissions will need just five days in order to decide on the allocation of social assistance. How many days does it take to collect all those proofs and references?!

It is still unclear how the draft authors were able to calculate that exactly 210,000 people would require Br28 billion for this purpose, especially for those affected by fires and other cataclysms. Obviously, there will be more people than expected, meaning that the money will not be enough for all.

However, other categories are planned to receive more than needed. For example, children younger than two years old will receive Br4 billion, saved after the abolition of benefits. Tatsyana Shametavets, an official at the Ministry of Labor and Social Security, has learned about it from the European Radio for Belarus. She got even surprised with this “unexpected” money. She says that Br15.7 billion presently allocated for this purpose is more than enough.

The draft decree has no mention about students and pensioners who lost their benefits. Only at the last meeting with president, an idea was expressed that their losses would be possibly compensated through the rise in stipends and pensions. Will it be a real compensation at the background of the permanent price growth?