The Parliamentary Assembly of the Russia-Belarus Union met in Minsk and failed to pass the Union budget for 1999. The budget funds the programs of the Union’s Executive Committee, the top level of the executive branch. Since neither Belarus nor Russia have adopted national budgets, in which allocations for funding the Union budget are contained, a Union budget could not be voted. Theoretically Russia is to provide 65 percent of Union funds, but in 1998 Russia met only 27 percent of its obligations.
While the Assembly deliberated, some 500 Belarusan trucks carrying goods to Russia turned back at the border, refusing to pay a newly instituted crossing fee of $250 per truck. In the Russia-Belarus Union, trade may be free, but there is a slight charge for shipping and handling.