March 17, 2005

Belarus boosts self-employed

Minsk, Belarus, Mar. 17 (UPI) -- Belarus is setting up new associations to help self-employed businessmen, Interfax news agency reported Thursday.

The new associations of the self-employed, or entrepreneurial councils, will be set up in the former Soviet republic under a presidential decree that has just been drafted, the news agency said.

"It must be clearly written down how and where they will be set up and what form of protection they will have," Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko told a conference on ways to boost self-employment.

"If those councils are not protected, we won't get any information from them and they won't defend anyone.

"We shouldn't be afraid that those councils will be politicized. There will be politicization only if we don't work with them," he said.

Lukashenko urged the democratic election of the councils by secret ballot.