MINSK, 8 November (BelTA) – At a meeting held on 8 November to discuss the bills providing for amending the laws “On the Council of Ministers of the Republic of Belarus” and “On normative legal acts” the Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko voiced the main requirements to these documents, BelTA has learned.
The head of state said that bringing the legislation in accordance with the updated Constitution is a very important topic for the country. “There are a lot of issues, they are not simple, they require the closest attention,” he said. The draft laws on the Belarusian People's Congress and on changes to the Electoral Code were discussed at the presidential level not long ago. The amendments to the law on the Council of Ministers and the law on normative legal acts are on the agenda of today's meeting.
Describing the document concerning the activity of the Council of Ministers, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “Over the past years, our government has gained tremendous experience: overcoming crisis situations and pandemics, managing the economy in these conditions.”
“These achievements, a successfully-developed practice should be definitely enshrined in the law. I also demand more initiative and independence of the Council of Ministers, even boldness in decision-making,” the president said.
The Belarusian leader is convinced that appropriate mechanisms should be laid down in the draft law to make everything work well. “This is the area of responsibility for the Council of Ministers. While working on a draft law, one should remember that the structure of the government should not remain frozen as well. I already talked about that in August,” he stressed.
The second document - the bill on normative legal acts – is the basis for a single legal space of the country. “It should help constitutional norms to develop, taking into account the current situation,” said the head of state.
In his words, the current law specifies in detail who has the right to adopt these or those documents as well as their legal effect. “With a new body - the Belarusian People's Congress – included in the Constitution we have to define its place in the system of legal acts. The importance of these documents is comparable to that of the decisions of the Congress of the Communist Party in its time. The law should contain answers to all the questions about lawmaking: starting from preparation procedures and ending with a clear explanation of the rules. My demand is that everything must be spelled out in simple and clear language!” the president said.
System of checks and balances
When it was said that the prime minister's function to perform the duties of the president in certain cases had been excluded from the prime minister's powers (this function has been assigned to the chairperson of the Council of the Republic), the president considered it necessary to specify that it was his proposal to amend the Constitution so that in case the current president left power, his duties would be performed by the chairperson of the Council of the Republic and not by the prime minister as it was before. After all, the prime minister would have the leverage to manage financial instruments, the parliament, the judiciary, and the executive branch in such a case. “That is probably something which is not right to do. We need a system of checks and balances. There should be a system of checks and balances. Imagine, the prime minister holds a presidential election in the event of the president's resignation. The budget, economy, finances, everything get in the same hands. Right? Right. The result is almost predetermined in any democracy. For example, the midterm elections are on in the United States, the bastion of democracy, today. You can see how they are worried about vote rigging,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“Therefore, it was decided that in such a situation, the chairperson of the Council of the Republic would perform these duties. The prime minister will deal with economic issues,” the head of state explained. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that this decision did not take into account the individuals who hold certain positions today. It was important to maintain a balanced system. “It is an absolutely democratic step. Individuals have nothing to do with it. The fact that the chairperson of the Council of the Republic organizes the elections is more democratic. If it is fair, especially with the election of the president, then people will understand it. Because that (and you see it) is what all protests, sanctions, unrest and so on are based on. I proceed from this point,” said the Belarusian leader.
Belarusian People's Congress decisions in the hierarchy of normative acts
The innovations enshrined in the bills and discussed at the meeting included the norms that regulate the interaction between the Council of Ministers and the Belarusian People's Congress.
“It is very important. We are getting a new body in the structure [of the state], and it has to be built into this system," he said. Figuratively, Aleksandr Lukashenko compared the process to the way a new person joins the ranks and, one way or another, he or she shoulders those standing close. “We have to make the Belarusian People's Congress fit into this system smoothly,” he said.
Chief of the Office of the Council of Ministers Konstantin Burak said that the significance of the legal validity of the decisions of the Belarusian People's Congress is spelled out in every document where it is necessary. For example, the prime minister is obliged to inform the Belarusian People's Congress about the implementation of social and economic development programs on an annual basis.
The president reiterated the key role of the Congress and the binding nature of its decisions. “The Belarusian People's Congress, let us say, makes one or two decisions. They are subject to execution by everyone. God forbid a war ... The Belarusian People's Congress makes the corresponding decision, and everyone are ready to fulfill it. This is the essence of the new body. They [the decisions of the Belarusian People's Congress] should be unique. They must be made on very few issues. They should not interfere in the competence of the president or other government bodies in any case,” stressed the Belarusian leader.
In turn, other government bodies, in case of the Belarusian People's Congress decisions, must, figuratively speaking, line up one after another and act, the president demanded. “This is mandatory. I am worried exactly about making everything perform according to the law,” he added.
Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Olga Chupris said that the draft law on normative legal acts enshrines this meaning regarding the Belarusian People's Congress decisions. In the hierarchy of documents they follow the Constitution, laws on amendments and additions to the Constitution, and decisions of national referendums. She stressed that any decision of any body, except for judicial decisions, can be overturned by the decisions of the Belarusian People's Congress.
Importance of the current moment to sort everything out
Aleksandr Lukashenko explained why he pays such close attention to the formation of the legal framework in the development of the updated Constitution. According to him, it is necessary to document the process of improving the country's governance, while maintaining stability and preventing imbalances. “We, who are sitting here right now, have to get this all straightened out. New people will come into the system we have to create. This is not a joke. This means the management of society, the state, social and economic processes and also the country's sovereignty and independence. This is not a joke. Only someone who does not think seriously about it takes it very easy. Here, the main task of the incumbent president, i.e. me, is to get it all sorted out. That is why I pay so much attention to these legal acts related to the Constitution,” said the president.
The president cited the example of Russia's experience in amending the Constitution, noting that President Vladimir Putin was actively involved in the stage of discussion of the changes, and then the relevant authorities worked. “They have their own system. They have more experience and more specialists. We have to pay more attention to the process here. That is why we are considering it at this level,” Aleksandr Lukashenko explained.
“My task is to leave a normal system of society and government management for the new generation. That is the point. How much time does the current president and all of us need for that? We will spend as much time on it as is needed,” said the Belarusian leader.
The meeting participants also discussed some provisions of the draft laws, including the powers of the Council of Ministers to ensure and control the implementation of the decisions of the Belarusian National Congress, the renewal of the structure of the government, the system of state governing bodies and organizations subordinated to the government, the expansion of the Council of Ministers Presidium to include the Justice Minister, updating the tasks, functions and status of the Office of the Council of Ministers.
It was decided to revisit the issue of legal formulations concerning the unique status of the decisions of the Belarusian People's Congress in order to give them their rightful place in the hierarchy of the normative legal acts of the country in accordance with the requirements and tasks which the head of state voiced at the meeting.