President's office keeps silent on the final version of legislation on targeted social aid

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The ministries that developed the draft legislation on targeted social assistance are unaware what the final document will look like. What is known for sure is that the former victims of concentration camps will not get their benefits back.

The Social Security Ministry staffers were the last ones to see the draft document two weeks ago before forwarding it to the Office of the President. The working group (23 representatives of various ministries, NGOs and unions) received the draft in early July.

But even Tatsyana Kastsyukovich, a specialist at the department of social security at the Ministry of Labour and Social Security of Belarus, is unable to say who the targeted social aid is envisaged for. What the president is going to sign will be known on December 16 only.

Tatsyana Kastsyukovich: “Before the law is signed, we don’t have the right to comment. The draft is currently at the Office of the President. Perhaps, they could comment on this issue. The Ministry of Labour and Social Security is just an agency responsible for developing a draft. Nobody knows how the legislation looks like now”.

In respond to the question from the European Radio for Belarus on whether the benefits for the victims of the Nazi concentration camps would be restored, Tatsyana Kastsyuokvich assured this reporter that she had heard nothing about this. Despite the fact that the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) and Education Ministry were part of the working group to develop the draft legislation, they declined comment on this issue.

BRSM: “We can now say one thing, something different will be eventually signed”.

Raman Drapira, the deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Belarusian Education and Science Workers’ Union, saw the draft the last time in June. Back then, he told European Radio for Belarus that the initial version of the document envisaged monthly allowances of Br28,000 ($14) for students. However, not everyone in the working group backed this figure.

Raman Drapira: “This figure was reduced and increased. I can’t tell you anything, because I have not even seen the latest versions of the document. The final version was not handed out to the members of the working group. When the group was still working, we would routinely get the draft by e-mail. But they stopped doing this beginning from early July. The information appears to be classified. Therefore, we are launching an alternative motion and will demand an increase in compensations to students for their accommodation”.

The European Radio for Belarus also tried to explore whether universities knew that they would have to pay targeted social assistance. Universities are now in the process of planning their budgets for the next fiscal year. We phoned the press office of the Belarus State University. Volha Shchardyna, BSU spokesperson said that no lodging allowances were being planned.

“As of now, we have not received any documents, showing that we will compensate the loss of benefits. They might still come out, but I don’t know,” she said.

Other major universities in Minsk said that they had heard something about it but had not received any orders in this regard.

Nobody at the National Legislation Center at the Office of the President saw the draft law on targeted social assistance and does not know what students and low-income households should expect in the near future. Everything depends on the president who is to make his decision on December 16.

Photo: www.buntby.com