The most topical aspects of development of the Belarusian economy were on the agenda of the latest government conference hosted by Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko. The prime minister, deputy prime ministers, the head of the Belarus President Administration, the head of the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament, top officials of the State Control Committee and the central bank took part in the conference among other people.
The head of state reminded that he had earlier decided in favor of hosting quarterly government conferences with the political, economic, and power-wielding blocs of the government. Such events are supposed to focus on tactical matters. The government conference held on 22 August was scheduled to discuss economic affairs. “I would like to warn the prime minister and all the people present here that it has nothing to do with the government having to present a report to the President. The relevant report has been scheduled. It will take place at a time I deem necessary or when the time is right,” pointed out Alexander Lukashenko.
It was noted that the development of the economy determines the state of social and political affairs and the material wealth of people. This is why the President wanted specific government officials to answer concrete questions.
The President said: “How did individual branches of the economy perform in H1 2017? Can we really hit the annual development targets? It seems to me that we have some growth, about one percent, but is it stable or not? What dynamics can we expect in the future in this regard?”
“I would like to know how my instructions to control and monitor prices and pricing practices in the country are being fulfilled? On the one hand, inflation is way below the targeted range. It is good. However, on the other hand, people complain that prices are definitely uncomfortable for some things. For instance, medications and some bakery products. The price fluctuations may be small yet they do happen,” stated Alexander Lukashenko.
“Last year we agreed that one high-performance job needs to be created for every job, which has been made redundant. But Belarusian companies still continue firing more people than hiring. At least according to the reports I get. I wonder why,” said the head of state.
The situation is even more uncertain with regard to the companies that go out of business. “Where do those people go? New jobs are seemingly created on paper but this is nothing but window dressing in practice. If I am wrong, I would like to hear an answer to that question. I am told that the number of employed Belarusians is on the decline,” stressed the President.
“Are we getting the targeted level of salaries in economy branches and regions? Is the stratification of the society by revenue getting worse? How has the government responded to my instruction to pay close attention to the workers, who get paid bottom salaries?” wondered Alexander Lukashenko.
The head of state said he wanted to know about salaries in agriculture, education, healthcare, and culture.
The President described food security as the most important matter today. “I closely follow news reported by various mass media. The reporters should not write about some heroic deeds committed by farmers during the harvesting campaign, including deeds committed by the President. There is nothing heroic about the harvesting campaign. The reporters use a simplified approach to the work I do and the work of all the thousands of people, who do their jobs, including harvesting. We are talking exclusively about the country’s food security,” he stated.
“When people are well-fed, when every one of them has enough food every day, then the country will have peace and order. Not having enough food is not a laughing matter. This is why the harvesting campaign, the autumn sowing campaign, and forage conservation are something we should talk about separately,” explained Alexander Lukashenko. “What do we have now in this regard?”
The head of state wanted to know how his instructions concerning the flax industry are being fulfilled starting with flax farming and ending with flax processing. He said he wanted to know how flax seed areas are chosen, how technologies are observed, and how Belarus-grown seeds are produced.
“I would like to look at the problem from another angle. Do we now have a domestic market and a foreign one for the flax products? For the fabrics and our ready-made products? If the reports I get are correct, I wonder why flax factories are overstocked these days?” said the President.
Alexander Lukashenko reminded that the decision to build dairy complexes and modernize dairy farms had been made several years before. However, this work has been postponed due to objective reasons. “It is now time to get down to these problems. Our decision to take care of these dairy complexes is our greatest accomplishment,” Alexander Lukashenko pointed out. “If we had not done it, there would be no agriculture in Belarus today.”
The head of state gave instructions to finish building and retooling dairy farms in addition to providing them with quality forage by late 2018. He also wondered when the construction of silage and hay trenches will begin in Belarus.
The President said he was confident that dairy complexes and storage facilities should be built using standardized inexpensive designs. “I see no special problems with that,” he said.
“I’ve given instructions to update the Palesse harvester lineup by the 2018 harvesting campaign. We need to focus on some models that will sell well on the market. The harvester we tested in Mogilev Oblast and Vitebsk Oblast a short time ago is a good one. It leaves a clean field and is on par with imported harvesters in every parameter. It is a good thing that Gomselmash engineers are not satisfied with their accomplishments. They say there are ways to improve this harvester,” pointed out Alexander Lukashenko.
The head of state reminded that engines for these harvesters should be produced in Belarus since the relevant factories are available in the country.
“Creating a Gomselmash super harvester that will beat foreign competitors is another thing. I am not going to reveal all the secrets but the designers have already made some headway into it,” said the President. He gave instructions to schedule a visit to the Belarusian agricultural machinery company Gomselmash in winter for the sake of getting familiar with vehicle modernization and the production of new models.
“I’d like to know the state of affairs in the civil engineering industry — housing construction and other projects. What is being done to reduce prime costs? I am concerned about these matters,” stated Alexander Lukashenko. “If some government officials want to curtail the housing construction program, I suggest they should move right now into one- or two-bedroom apartments together with their families or try renting an apartment from a landlord.”
The head of state said he wanted to know how financial stability is being secured and what measures are being taken to bolster the national currency. The export of merchandise and services was also mentioned. “Export proceeds have improved due to the price factor and the state of affairs has improved. It is a good thing. Meanwhile, no serious changes have happened as far as efforts to penetrate new markets of merchandise and services are concerned,” stated the President.