What do the drivers think about the Traffic Police "campaign"?
The first results of the traffic police "hunting" are announced. During the first five days of the special campaign that started on August 7, 200 thousand motorists were stopped and fined.
The leader of the Belarusian National Congress from Slonim, public figure and businessman Viktar Marchyk commented on the situation for Charter97.org.
- Mass disregard for the MOT test started in Belarus after the introduction of the "tax on access to traffic". Its size is about Br200. Is it much for an ordinary Belarusian family nowadays?
- Br200 is half the salary for many people. For many people, it's two thirds of the salary. And there are more and more families, where this sum makes up almost the entire salary.
The logic of the authorities is simple: pay it at once and then you will get access to the traffic. And how can people live a whole month then? I'm sorry, how should they pay for the utilities? Should they live in a car they can drive now?
One can say for sure that the majority of Belarusians can't afford such a "road tax" now. It seems that the authorities when introducing it, judged only by Minsk. But there is life behind Minsk Ring Motorway, too! I would say that the majority of people live and work in the regions, and this amount is high.
And Br200 is for a car. The amount depends on the weight of the car. And if a person lives in the region and receives an average salary of Br300, he may drive a large and heavy car... This is a confiscatory tax - that's why half of the motorists boycott it.
- What inconveniences, except for the financial ones, do the "road tax" bear for the Belarusian motorist? Do we need it at all?
- Yes, there are a lot of inconveniences both for motorists and maintenance workers, who have to do the work of the tax authorities.
After all, a driver will never refuse to pass the MOT test if needed. It is good for a responsible person to have a car tested. After all, the suspension and chassis are our everything, our life, as they say.
But people ignore the MOT test because it's attached to the "road tax". And maintenance workers are demanded not to issue a certificate without paying tax.
As for the necessity of the tax, I will say that we are paying it when buying gasoline from Belarusian refineries. It was discussed, for example, to unbind the "road tax" from the MOT test and include it in the cost of fuel. But it will be a double, if not a triple, taxation. The price of gasoline supplied from refineries already includes many items, including repair and "modernization" of the refineries and the needs of road infrastructure.
In dollar terms, gasoline is cheaper in Belarus than in the neighbouring EU countries. But the ratio of fuel prices to real wages is not in our favour. And the price of gasoline is non-transparent. Therefore, we are already paying this "road tax," without even passing the test.
- The authorities announced that from April 1, the "road tax" would be unbound from the test. But then they gave up this idea. How do you and your acquaintances assess this "Fool's Day prank"?
- The state needs money, and it uses every mean to "milk" people. Double or triple taxation is welcomed just to collect the necessary amount.
The most resentful thing is that we don't know how this money is spent. If the "road tax" had been spent on the roads, believe me, there would have been not birdbaths in the regions. The roads surface would have been perfect even in the most isolated areas.
People break the suspensions and wonder what they pay for.
- 200 thousand Belarusians were fined within five days. How would you comment on the results of the traffic police campaign?
- This is a huge figure, a huge percentage if we take into account how many adults and able-bodied people are in Belarus. It turns out that almost every family has been affected. But this "campaign" will last for a few more days!
I'm not going to judge how many more people will be caught and what will happen in the end. Let's see.
- What will be the response of the Belarusian drivers?
- I doubt that all 50% of the drivers who boycotted the test would rush to pass it. This is not the national feature of Belarusians. We are the nation of partisans. We will continue to "partisan" on the roads.
All my acquaintances say they will keep on ignoring the MOT test. People are ready to stand on the principle and do not pay. You know, I can't repeat the words thrown at our leaders.
People cannot be deceived so easily. Everybody sees that the "road tax" goes not to the local budget (which can be directly used for the same road repair), but to the very top.
- The date of the "parliamentary elections" has recently been announced in Belarus. What are the authorities thinking about, antagonizing hundreds of thousands of motorists on the eve of the elections?
- Dissatisfaction with Lukashenka's policy and living standards after 25 years of dictatorship is increasingly high. A very large percentage of Belarusians want a change of power, including the former Lukashenka's electorate, that has no trust in him.
And I have an impression that Lukashenka is well aware of it and they try to " have fun" for the last time. If they used to cover their robberies with some populism, some beautiful "pictures" and phrases on TV, now they realize that they are not able to deceive people.
Those who previously believed in "Ryhoravich's justice" now use foul language. This is a fact. And the authorities know it. It makes no sense for them to conceal something. Therefore, they simply put skin in the game, as in the case of 200 thousand fined motorists. What is the point of cunning? They are in a hurry to steal for the last time. Many people see it.
Nobody knows when people's patience runs dry. But enough is enough: the screws are tightened and the carving is about to break. I don't know what may happen at these "parliamentary elections", but at the presidential elections of 2020, people may make it clear how tired they are.
And such unwise actions as fines for 200 thousand people will be remembered and will encourage people to go to the square on the day of the presidential elections. And we may follow Armenia in footsteps.