The quality of work done by local authorities and top production sector officials to develop the manufacturing industry in Orsha is extremely poor, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said as he visited the region on 13 August.
He unveiled his plans to pay a working trip to Orsha District at the session with the government members and governors. In his words, this event will be a litmus test of the government’s work.
The head of state paid special attention to the development of the manufacturing industry, first of all, the state of affairs at faltering enterprises. On 13 August, Alexander Lukashenko visited four organizations where he talked to production sector and government officials, workers of enterprises. He asked them about their plans, salaries, the atmosphere at those enterprises in general.
The head of state saw failures to reach goals on approach to the enterprise. He pointed out that even attempts to beautify the territory of the enterprise had not produced the desired results. Everything had been done hastily and shoddily. “You don’t like people. You don’t like the enterprise. If you go for whitewashing, put some curb stone instead of placing asphalt on top of grass. What kind of technology is that? This is why people sometimes hate civil servants. They are hated for come-what-may attitudes and messy results,” the head of state said.
The conversation continued in the same manner after the tour of the enterprise. The President was extremely dissatisfied with what he had seen. “Most likely, we will send [Industry] Minister [Vitaly Vovk] to work here. He has a choice: either prison or working here. I say it openly. Your results have been terrible so far. Don’t ever try to whitewash things. You are a young executive. You are in charge here. I don’t want to see any failures or shortcomings when I come again here before the new year. You know what will happen,” the President told the enterprise’s Director Vladislav Bardyukov.
The head of state explained why it is so important to restore the effective work of the enterprise. There are many processing and manufacturing enterprises in Belarus. Each of them starting with major companies like Gomselmash and ending with small agricultural enterprises needs tools. “I wouldn’t hold on to it so much if we didn’t need these products so much,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “This is why the tool-making plant has to be properly restored so that Gomselmash, MTZ, MAZ, and all the other enterprises, even processing and agricultural ones, could get good tools. This is why I hold on to this plant.”
“For now I see an idiotic attitude to my instructions. But I know what needs to be done. I have sufficient authority. As of tomorrow the industry minister should work here. What post he will occupy is up to you,” the President said.
During the tour of the enterprise Alexander Lukashenko was informed about the financial and economic state of the tool-making plant, development prospects, and measures being taken to ensure stable operation. Certain positive results have been achieved, however, Alexander Lukashenko was fiercely critical, saying everything is being done extremely slowly, way past the deadlines, with the enterprise’s assets and manufacturing premises used carelessly. Most of the premises are terrible to look at. The roof leaks in some places. “What kind of workstations are these?! It is some torture chamber! People do backbreaking work here for $200 per month!” the head of state criticized the local working conditions.
The President was also displeased with the slow acquisition of new equipment. The equipment is vital since it will enable the enterprise to perform more complicated orders, which will bring more profits. For now the enterprise uses machine tools, which are decades old. The enterprise management has taken a number of steps to procure new equipment, but no practical results have been achieved so far. Alexander Lukashenko pointed out that Orsha District is also home to the machine-tools factory Krasny Borets, which director Alexander Shulgin was also present during the tour of the Orsha tool-making plant. Alexander Shulgin confirmed his enterprise was capable of promptly supplying most of the equipment the Orsha tool-making plant needs. “You knew what I demand. Why didn’t you say that no imports were needed, no tenders were needed because Krasny Borets makes the necessary kind of equipment?” Alexander Lukashenko asked the civil servants.
He gave instructions to arrange the acquisition of the necessary equipment from the machine-tools factory Krasny Borets as well as other Belarusian manufacturers and import only the equipment the local manufacturers cannot provide. “Start bringing in machine tools today. With the profit margins you have now. Take these lots and orders and start delivering machine tools at existing prices,” Alexander Lukashenko told the director of the machine-tools factory Krasny Borets.
The President also urged to bring things to order inside the unused shops and in the territory of the enterprise. He urged to repair the roof and think about effective ways to utilize the unused premises. Alexander Lukashenko repeatedly stressed that everything should be done properly in a businesslike manner, bearing long-term goals in mind without any whitewashing.
Careful attitude to public property was also discussed during the President’s tour of OAO Orshaagroprommash which is part of Bobruiskagromash Holding Company.
Alexander Lukashenko was briefed about the financial performance of the enterprise and its growth prospects. The company’s products were showcased to the President.
Bobruiskagromash director asked for assistance with debt restructuring. A corresponding decree has been drafted. Alexander Lukashenko instructed senior officials of the Belarus President Administration to come to grips with this matter, submit a relevant report to the president and put forward their proposals.
The President carefully studied the operation of Orshaagroprommash, asked about the company’s workload and efforts to find new sales markets. He urged to use the manufacturing facilities properly and improve the physical infrastructure of the enterprise.
Alexander Lukashenko also visited Orsha Meat Packing Plant. The head of state was told about the company’s operations and manufacturing facilities. According to the head of state, the enterprise should expand its product range.
After touring several workshops, Alexander Lukashenko criticized the enterprise’s work and the way the facilities and the physical infrastructure were kept. “Things should change by 7 November 2020. Resources should be allocated, a new slaughter floor should be set up and this [old buildings] should be demolished. The enterprise should be turned into a modern company that is on par with the best meat packing plants,” the President emphasized.
During a tour of the enterprise Tekhnika Svyazi in the town of Baran, the President criticized a number of high-level officials for the lack of effort to implement his earlier instructions.
The company makes part of the Geoinformation Systems enterprise and reports to the State Military Industry Committee. A task had been set for the company to build up capacities using the existing facilities and to expand the output and assortment of products that are in demand on the market. However, in fact, many buildings and facilities stay idle or are offered for sale or are to be demolished.
The head of state was told about the company’s development plans and positive trends in the company’s output and job creation. Nevertheless, Alexander Lukashenko drew attention of the industry top officials to the fact that his instructions are not implemented in full, and the statement alleging that the remaining premises are sufficient is just an explanation for the inadequate efficiency. “It is enough if nothing is done. Another thing if you set a task… After all, a task was set from the very beginning to utilize all this and to roll out products that are in demand on the market. You saw it as an easy ride: this and that will be leveled by a bulldozer, this will be sold. What kind of a plant will it be? I would not need you to do it. I see that you did not care enough to come to grips with the task that had been set,” the President said.
“Why would I need such a ministry [State Military Industry Committee] and a minister that destroys what I told him to utilize,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.
Alexander Lukashenko changed the initial inspection itinerary to see the production premises of the company with his own eyes. It turned out that many locations are not used as production premises and are simply in a mess. “This is your face that you showed. Indeed, you did not expect me to come to see your “lavatory”. You have turned every other storey of this building into a lavatory where no one has ever cleaned. We will show the whole country how you work,” the head of state said.
“You decided to find an easy way around me,” the President noted.
During the working trip to Orsha Distirct, Alexander Lukashenko also asked Vitebsk Oblast Governor Nikolai Sherstnev about plans to develop the production sector. “If we repair the streets and take care of beautification the way it has been done in Kopys, we will be half way there. Giving people jobs, keeping them employed, and getting them to stay in these beautiful places is what matters,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
The governor informed the head of state about the distribution of productive forces, the structure and development of industries in Vitebsk Oblast. It was noted that due to objective and subjective reasons the region’s population had dropped over the years, respectively the number of working Belarusians had dropped. This is why development efforts will focus on the districts with the bulk of the workforce, including Orsha District. “Today the development of Orsha District is the most topical question not only from the point of view of employment, but the budget revenues, too. If Orsha District recovers enough to stop taking subsidies – Orsha District takes as much in subsidies as ten other districts – we will have money for the development of other regions,” Nikolai Sherstnev said.
A special program has been developed in Vitebsk Oblast. It provides for implementing investment projects in every district to the total tune of about Br6.5 billion. The oblast governor assured that these are not just plans, work has already begun on several investment projects. “There are about 21,000 people in Vitebsk Oblast, who are not part of the economy. We can find jobs for roughly half of them – 10,000 – as we implement these projects. We’ve selected our economic growth centers,” Nikolai Sherstnev said. In his words, plans have been made to develop tourism industry, set up new enterprises and manufacturing facilities, develop the processing of locally available raw materials, timber harvesting and processing, and build transportation and logistics hubs. Additional attractive conditions will be enabled to encourage young Belarusians to stay in small populated localities and district capitals.
Speaking about employment, Alexander Lukashenko drew attention to the need to see the real situation, including the employment situation, instead of relying only on registered unemployment figures. The head of state said he wanted municipal authorities to resolve problems instead of hushing them up.