Stable operation of the Belarusian industry is a cornerstone of the country’s economy, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a government meeting to discuss the development of the country’s major industrial companies on 27 August.
The situation at major largest companies affiliated with the Industry Ministry was high on the agenda of the meeting. “We will discuss the state of affairs and what are the development prospects for these companies,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He added that several days ago he heard out reports of the first vice premier and the finance minister. The meeting examined the state of affairs in finances and budget of the country. “Everyone understands perfectly well that efficient operation of manufacturing companies is crucial for the national budget and the ability of the state to finance social programs. The stable operation of the Belarusian industry is a cornerstone of the country’s economy,” the head of state said.
The President added that this year has been a difficult one. Many markets closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. The flow of goods and capital practically stopped. Now there is a difficult political situation in the country, and the attempts to stir up tensions comes from inside and outside, he said. “This pressure impacts the domestic economic situation. I would like to reiterate that no one will give us any gratuitous assistance. We have to rely on our strengths and capabilities.”
The head of state asked the participants of the meeting, especially the heads of enterprises, what the moral and psychological situation in working collectives is, how the manufacturing processes are going and what the situation with export is. “Export promotion is our key challenge. A foreign currency flow, ruble exchange rate and so on depend on this. We cannot sit and wait for some to come and line up to buy these products. We have to be more aggressive. We provide export promotion assistance. Is there anything we could do more to help,” the head of state asked.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, almost all the country's industries showed growth in January-July, and stocks of finished products are gradually decreasing. These are positive signals, he said. The President also asked about the companies’ forecasts for the end of 2020. “Next year is the start of a new five-year plan. No matter what it takes, we have to work hard and show growth at the finish line,” the Belarusian leader said.
The head of state inquired about the situation in the industrial sector, any possible issues with merchandise export, and the mood in labor collectives. He also asked the industry minister to report about the situation at BelAZ.
“What is happening at BelAZ? They [provocateurs] are playing foul. We watched this yesterday: as tired BelAZ workers were returning home from work, those people started flaunting a flag, walking by them to make a picture… I know how such things are done. No BelAZ worker needs it. They understand it very well: if BelAZ stops, the city will collapse,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
At the meeting the President said that a diplomatic onslaught has been launched against Belarus at the highest level. “We are witnessing a certain stage of a hybrid war on Belarus. How else can it be called? Mass media and the information landscape have been involved in this fight, a war of conflicting sides. A diplomatic onslaught on us has started at the highest level,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He noted that Belarus’ neighbors do not only openly declare their position on the repeat election in the country, but also begin to interfere in its domestic affairs and to pressurize the state. “A diplomatic war is obvious,” the President reiterated.
The head of state added that the country now has to spend huge money to stabilize the situation at its western border where some military units were dispatched. “You see these statements saying that if Belarus falls apart, Grodno Oblast will become part of Poland. They are already saying it openly, they are dreaming about it. They will not succeed, I know it for sure,” the Belarusian leader said.
“Our domestic rascals are now openly calling for destabilization of the financial market. Some people have already succumbed to the calls to withdraw foreign currency from banks and so on,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
“We will not allow the collapse of the national currency. If people want to buy dollars, let them do it, it costs what it costs today. We have a floating exchange rate. If the demand goes up, the dollar and euro will rise. If the demand shrinks, the dollar and euro will cost less. We are not trying to curb the exchange rate of the Belarusian ruble,” the head of state emphasized.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, Belarus has not really tapped into its gold and foreign currency reserves yet. “The National Bank and the government are doing a great job. I anticipated this situation when three months ago I set a task to return all gold and foreign currency reserves back to the country. Absolutely all our gold, up to a gram, was returned,” he said.
“Thus, there is no catastrophe. Indeed, some exchange offices might sometimes run out of cash. However, it always happens when the demand is high. I instructed the National Bank to take action to avoid such situations. If people want to get their money back, let them do it. We have enough reserves to keep the exchange rate at an acceptable level,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the President, he was informed that some people who exchanged their money were robbed, because criminals had learned about it. “I think our people should think about it in earnest,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko informed that Belarus and Russia will hold talks on refinancing a $1 billion debt. “We have agreed upon it with the Russian President and today our prime minister will hold talks with Mikhail Mishustin [Russia’s prime minister] to discuss the refinancing,” the head of state said.
He explained that this year Belarus seeks to refinance $1 billion it owes to the Russian Federation. “In other words, we will keep this billion dollars here upon the agreement with Russia. This will be a good boost for our national currency,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
In addition to that, export is also expected to generate a considerable inflow of foreign currency revenues. “Our export is now doing pretty well, in particular in Russia and China. Export means foreign currency revenues,” the President said.
“We have survived this election, we have survived calls for strikes [they failed to goad people into doing it). We have survived a blitzkrieg on the streets when they wanted to strangle the country on 9-10 August. We have survived all this and we will survive this, too,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.