CASE Belarus conference “Reforming Public Road Transport in Belarus” took place on December 22, 2009. High level transport debate was attended by representatives of Belarusian Ministry of Transport, MinskTrans, unions of transporters, and transportation companies.
The conference has become the summarizing event of the technical assistance project titled “Fostering private participation in provision of public transportation services in Belarus”. The project has been implemented by CASE Belarus in partnership with Union of Belarusian Transport Organization under financial assistance of Polish Minitry of Foriegn Affairs within “Polish Aid 2009” assistance program to Belarus.
The aim of the conference was twofold:
i) to present officially Privatization Concept of Public Transport in Belarus (in short, the Concept) – it was presented by three authors of the paper Dzmitry Babicki, Valancina Lavončyk, Dzmitry Sokał;
ii) to discuss the state-of-the-art and development issues for public transport system of Belarus.
The long and constructive discussion was honorary managed by former minister of transport of Belarus Mr. Uładzimir Sasnoŭski.
The conference results and feedback have brought an important information for CASE Belarus, the Concept authors and future projects in this field:
1. All participants noticed the high quality of the Concept and work performed by the team of authors during the project in 2009. It was said that the Concept was “ready to implement” in Belarus without changes in legislation or it could become the fundamental paper for a new local transport law in the country.
2. It was unonimously admitted that the current system of public transport regulation in Belarus is not effective. The extreme necessity of reforms and privatization of the sector was widely supported.
3. The key issues duscussed were:
i) introduction of independent system of regulation through the institute of independent operator;
ii) vertical desintegration of state-owned transport companies;
iii) introduction of the system of transportation subsidies according to the rates indicated in routes contracts.
4. The hottest debate at the conference was connected to the issue of absence of fair competition at the public transportation services market between state-owned and private companies with high dominance of the first. Even directors of stated-owned companies supported the idea of privatization of the sector in order to increase the quality of services provided.
5. The transport companies representatives, specially those of the state-owned, argued for introduction of the system of routes contracts (currently not used in Belarus). It was proposed to the team of authors to create the methodology and calculate tariffs to be used in routes contracts in case the reform is undertaken in the country.
The proposals of the conference participants include:
i) to continue lobbing true realisation of the Belarus law “About Road Transport” in respect to having a really independent operators of public transportation;
ii) to organize and implement the pilot project of privatization of one of the state-owned trasportation companies, for instance in Lida town.
The conference gathered about 40 participants including representatives of Belarusian Ministry of Transport, MinskTrans, unions of transporters, private and state-owned transport companies, constitutional court, State Property Fund, Academy of Sciences, universities, think-tanks.
The issues of the conference and its results have been widely dessiminated in Belarusian media.