We want it like in Ukraine!

    The minimum wage in our country will increase by 9.3 percent from January 1, 2022 and will amount to BYN 457, the government decree says. One could be glad about this message if it were not for taking into account that inflation will rise by at least 10 percent by the end of the year. So it will eat up the entire increase in the minimum wage without a trace, and the rapidly changing upward price tags at stores will just dispel the hopes of working people for an increase in living standards as quickly as the adopted government decree can generate them.

    At a recent meeting with a mission of the International Monetary Fund, one of its members asked if I considered it normal that wages in Belarus grew several times faster than the labour productivity grows. I replied that definitely not. I also noted that this happened not by chance. Today the government lives according to the principle “sometimes laws can be neglected,” including economic laws; and quite deliberately the authorities decided to decouple the growth of wages from the labour productivity growth.

    The authorities are once again stepping on the same rake, and this does not bode well for the country. By the end of this year, inflation will be almost twice as high as planned. It cannot be ruled out that once again, as it happened before, the money printing press will operate at the full capacity. Already in November, the largest growth in the money supply since the beginning of the year was recorded. As a result, once again it may result in a collapse of the Belarusian ruble exchange rate.

    It should be noted that even a 9.3 percent increase in the minimum wage does not change the unpleasant fact that it will remain the lowest wage rate in Europe. For example, in the past year Ukraine has left us behind in terms of minimum wages. And it is known that for many years the name of this country has been used by the Belarusian propaganda as a common noun in everything related to the situation of employees and their earnings.

    So far, Ukraine has outperformed us only in terms of the minimum wage. However, judging by the development, as early as next year it may outstrip the average monthly salary. And without exaggeration, this will become a landmark event as evidence that we have hopelessly lost in the field of social and economic policy. It seems that the authorities’ fear appeal “Do you want it like in Ukraine?” will soon give way to the demands of people “We want it like in Ukraine!”