Import substitution will be given an increased focus in Belarus, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he was inspecting Dobrush Paper Factory on 4 February.
The head of state studied progress in building a facility to produce uncoated and coated cardboard. The facility was supposed to come online in 2015, but was put on hold.
“What is the problem today? What is left for you to do?” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.
Yuri Nazarov, chief of the Belarusian timber, woodworking, pulp and paper industry concern Bellesbumprom, informed that the facility is 90% complete. The factory just needs to launch equipment and complete some minor construction works.
“Why do you need so much money for that [$83 million] if everything is in place?” the President asked.
The head of state was informed that half of the amount should be paid to Austrian company Andritz that will launch the machinery. Belarusian companies cannot do it as they do not have the necessary competencies: this is the first production of this kind in the post-Soviet space. “The Austrian company is the industry leader. They guarantee that we will get what we are building this facility for,” Yuri Nazarov said.
The Austrian company can also supply machinery to Dobrush if needed. Production of these nodes can be launched in Belarus in the future.
“We should manufacture all this at home. We have no oil like Russia does. They can afford buying any component parts – there is enough foreign currency there. However, we need to earn foreign currency instead of spending it abroad. We will come to grips with import substitution matters. This situation is not okay,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The President inspected a wood processing shop floor, an energy depot, and a shop floor of cardboard-making machinery, and studied the technical retooling of the plant. Import substitution was in focus all the way. According to the head of state, idle premises of Dobrush Paper Factory could be used to produce cardboard packaging that will soon be rolled out by the new facility. The company also has plans to do it. Such a possibility will be discussed in detail in the near future. However, so far the premises are used to produce exercise books, while covers for them are purchased from other companies.
“It is absolutely unacceptable. All this should be produced in-house. This is what import substitution is about,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.