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Thanks to an established top-down power structure and executive discipline, the public administration system functions properly and smoothly even in the most complicated situations, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he hosted a government session on 6 May to discuss the ways to improve the civil service law, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that civil service is the most important institution of public service, and that the country's successful development and the improvement of the life quality and standards depend on its effectiveness.
“Over the past 25 years of independence we have managed to build a coherent top-down power structure, develop a compact state apparatus, and ensure the necessary executive discipline. As a result, even in the most complicated situations the public administration system functions properly and smoothly. The best evidence to this is the consolidation of civil servants and their work under the previous year's conditions. It was a so-called litmus test,” the president said.
According to him, currently there is no need for any radical break or reforming of the civil service. The main task is to give an impetus to its further development. “I believe that personnel is crucial here. We need to attract to the state apparatus not just qualified and motivated professionals who can promptly solve important problems. We need true patriots. With the right personnel, the system will work. When entering service, a person should understand that his/her main duty is to serve the country and the Belarusian people,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.
Therefore the ethical and moral image of civil servants and their behavior both at work and in everyday life takes on special significance, said the head of state. He suggested that the new law should introduce insignia for civil servants similar to the badges of an MP. “We need to stipulate in the law that every civil servant should be visible in society, in everyday life. A state flag badge, for example. If you are a civil servant, you should be visible in society so that people can come to you for help, advice, support or just talk to you. Secondly, it would be a so-called test for any civil servant who should be proud of his/her post. Otherwise, he/she should not be a civil servant,” the president said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that ensuring a high status and prestige of the profession is impossible without social and legal guarantees. However, these guarantees should strictly correlate with the duties and responsibilities of each employee, the president added. “There should be no excesses: civil servants should not show off, like some of our businessmen, IT workers and other supporters of the oligarchy do. They need to be modest, decent persons including in terms of material wellbeing. This post does not mean that the salary is 10 times higher. Everything should be fair. There should be no such contrasts, as it was in the Soviet times under Gorbachev: the salaries of secretaries of district and other committees were doubled, which immediately caused criticism from ordinary people who lived not very well,” the president said.
On the other hand, the head of state said, civil servants should not be penniless. “Perhaps, there will be less corruption. Although I do not believe that if you give someone a large salary, they will stop taking bribes altogether. There is always not enough money. But they will think: “If I take a bribe, I will not only be fired, I will be put in jail. And here there is a good salary and service”. Therefore, these issues must be clearly defined,” he added.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the status of a civil servant will be raised high, but the requirements on this post will also be higher. The head of state spoke about this back at the Belarusian People's Congress. The president cited the work on the re-registration of non-profit organizations as a negative example of executive discipline. “More than a month has passed and I do not see any reaction from the President Administration or those present. Are you waiting for a new wave? Political scientists, our supporters (MPs and others) are already demanding: “You ‘clean up' the society, we see what is going on.” What are we waiting for? You know that these structures are used to finance these bandits inside the country,” the head of state said.
The new draft law on civil service is aimed at solving the problems that have been outlined by the president. The work on the document has been going on for several years already. In December 2020 the bill was passed in the first reading. “Prior to its second reading, we agreed to discuss once again the key provisions of this document along with the draft decrees prepared in its development. We need to be absolutely sure in the right direction of the civil service development,” the president said.
He asked to what extent the new law would meet current and future requirements of the state and the society, what approaches are envisaged to achieve a balance of discipline, responsibility of civil servants and the prestige of civil service. “I would like to reiterate my demands: the rights and obligations of civil servants and the rules of their conduct should be akin to those of the military ones,” the Belarusian leader said.
According to Head of the Belarus President Administration Igor Sergeyenko, the current law on civil service was adopted in 2003. “Taking into account how the world has changed and what challenges the state is facing, we see that the issue of improving the civil service is more relevant than ever. The events of the past year have shown that the public administration system is effective and strong. But the threats and risks that have recently emerged are no less strong, and there is a need for appropriate measures to protect our statehood and sovereignty,” he said.
Igor Sergeyenko added that, following the instruction of the head of state, a working group was set up three years ago and the new wording of the law on civil service and the corresponding draft decrees were repeatedly discussed at the level of the Council of the Republic, the President Administration and the Academy of Public Administration. “Legislative novelties are aimed at increasing the efficiency of the government bodies, the prestige of the civil service and, what is important, high-quality selection of civil servants,” said the head of the Belarus President Administration. In his words, one of the invariable requirements to the system is the employment of professionals devoted to their country.
The new law on civil service was drafted following the instructions of the president in July 2018. The bill was developed by an interdepartmental working group which included representatives of government bodies, scientists and experts.
The draft law establishes an integral system of civil service, consisting of state civil service, military service, and service in paramilitary organizations. According to the law drafters, this will help eliminate contradictions in the legal regulation, and will also lay the foundation for the convergence and development of unified approaches in the regulation of different types of civil service.
The document provides norms common to all civil servants. They define the principles and concepts of civil service. The draft law envisages a register of state civil posts and improves the existing system of classes of civil servants. The register will help differentiate civil posts and the corresponding remuneration of their labor depending on the level of the government body, the vested powers, the level of qualification and length of civil service. For this purpose, a draft decree on state civil posts has been worked out.
There are also plans to strengthen discipline and liability of civil servants in order to bring their legal status closer to that of the military one. In particular, the document will include a concept of civil servants' service discipline and the means to enforce it by analogy with the requirements of military charters and charters of paramilitary organizations, and envisages general requirements to the ethical behavior of civil servants by analogy with the provisions of the existing disciplinary charters which apply both to official conduct and behavior in everyday life. For this purpose, general requirements for the official ethics of civil servants have been developed as an appendix to the law. Failure to comply with the requirements of official ethics will result in the imposition of disciplinary measures on a civil servant.BelTA