State institutions in Belarus are developing more slowly than in other Eastern and Central European countries. This conclusion was made by experts of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in the report “Better governance – better economics”. On February 5, Chief Economist of the EBRD Beata Javorcik presented the report in Minsk.
Beata Javorcik stressed that the quality level of institutions in the state strongly depends on the economic level of the country. That is, wealthier countries usually have more developed institutions and good governance.
In 1996, Belarus had a lower level of institutional development than it should have had at that level of economy. In the 1990s, this situation was typical for many countries in the region. Over the next 20 years, this trend has not been corrected in Belarus.
“If we look at the correlation between the level of income and the quality of institutions, we see that some progress has been made, but still the quality is lower than the level of income in the Belarusian economy allows. Institutions in Eastern and Central Europe have grown much more since then,” says the expert.
The EBRD report notes that Belarusians have a very low level of confidence in their government, courts and elections. They are skeptical about the situation with corruption and freedom of the press.
“The gap with developed countries is only growing in these indicators. It has a very serious meaning. As a result, Belarus is developing at a much slower pace than it could,” said Ms Javorcik.
The economist stresses that the level of development of state institutions directly affects the level of investment in the country’s economy, the income of citizens, their satisfaction with life and, consequently, the desire to emigrate. Moreover, over the last decade, the importance of the development of institutions for the economy has only increased.
According to the EBRD, with the current quality of institutions, Belarus can reach the level of economic development of the G7 countries in at least 100 years. If institutions are effectively reformed, this period will be reduced to forty years.
“There is a need for free media, high quality of courts, introduction of ombudsman. Reform of institutions is not a simple matter. The progress observed in the countries of Central Europe was mainly due to EU accession. This process has become an external anchor, a benchmark that has demonstrated what needs to be achieved. But how to find an external benchmark for Belarus? Perhaps, the reform process can be stimulated by the accession to the World Trade Organization,” said Beata Javorcik.