Press review: Abolition of residence permit will boost labor market

People from across Belarus will be able to work in Minsk without a residence permit effective from January 1, 2008. Over the past 15 years, in order to get employed in Minsk, they would have to receive permission from the Minsk City Hall, while the employer would need to pay 500 base wage rates for non-resident worker. With the abolition of propiska, the Soviet-style mandatory residence permit, these restrictions will be lifted. No wonder that the Belarusian media sounded very positive in respond to the government's plans.

The government-owned Narodnaya Gazeta, Zvyazda and Sovietskaya Belorussia write:

“The procedures that existed for 15 years spoilt a lot of nerves… It definitely contradicted the contemporary situation…”

On January 1, 2008 employers will have the right to hire non-residents without a preliminary approval. This will positively influence on the labor market in Minsk, writes Zvyazda.

“We currently observe a significant shortage of labor force in Minsk. As of September 1, 3910 jobless people were registered in the employment centers. At the same time, there were 19344 job vacancies on offer. Those jobs cannot be filled without an additional labor force from the regions”.

The Sovietskaya Belorussia’s article also writes that the abolition of propiska “will allow to meet the demand of Minsk-based enterprises for professionals and to help non-residents get employment opportunities in the capital”.

But talking about “a significant deficit of labor force”, it is worth noting that most of job vacancies are seeking blue collars.

“The city needs painters, welders, drivers…”, writes Narodnaya Gazeta.

It is interesting that just one year ago Sovietskaya Belorussia and other state-run newspapers wrote that if propiska were abolished, people would run away from the rural areas and take away jobs from the residents of Minsk.

Specialized newspapers like Director and the National Economic Newspaper wrote back in 2003 about the need for labor migration and called for the abolition of residence permit which reduced the mobility of labor force.

“Labor force is a resource as mush the same as land and capital. Just like there is a migration of capital, there should be a space for the migration of labor resources. People should have an opportunity to seek employment where they can get the best deal at the moment.

Besides, the abolition of residence permit in Minsk will create equal starting opportunities for all the residents of this country”.

We also note that the fee of 500 base rates for a non-resident worker was justified as follows. “He or she uses the public transport and medical services equally with the residents of Minsk. Therefore, the new employer had to refund expenditures to the city’s budget”, Sovietskaya Belorussia wrote last year.

This procedure will be abolished beginning from the early next year, but it doesn’t mean that it is will be very easy for non-residents to get employed in Minsk. Propiska will be cancelled, but it will be replaced with registration which basically differs very little from the Soviet-style propiska.