Government conference on draft main provisions of program on Belarus' social and economic development in 2016-2020

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In the next five-year term Belarus needs to keep up with the world economy, science and progress. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement during the government conference held on 26 May to discuss the draft main provisions of the program on Belarus’ social and economic development in 2016-2020.

“The strategic social and economic development goals for the medium term and the measures to reach those goals have been determined. What we promised to the people in the pre-election period must be unconditionally fulfilled. It is now necessary to sketch out further practical steps,” stressed the Belarusian leader. “As part of the pre-election campaign we decided what we should accomplish. Virtually one year after the presidential election our program should not be changed drastically, at least the main strategic points must be preserved intact.”

The President remarked that the 2016-2020 national social and economic development program will be the key document for discussions during the fifth Belarusian People’s Congress. “I would like to see a new, more interesting form of the document. I would like this form to be live. Not only specialists but people, for whom we set out to accomplish the goals the program outlines, should be able to comprehend this program, these indicators and every chapter,” said the head of state.

The President stated: “We need real but ambitious goals. In the next five-year term we should recover what we’ve lost. It is desirable that we should keep up with the world economy, science and progress. Falling behind is not an option. We should not fall behind because we have everything for gaining every year. This program needs to stipulate what needs to be done to reach this goal.”

In his words, the program has to clearly define ways and mechanisms for implementing the plans. “For instance, if we aim for a specific GDP figure, we need to know how we can reach it. Where are we going to sell merchandise and how much?” noted the Belarusian leader.

“We have no intention of pulling some PR stunt,” stressed the Belarusian leader. “We truly need to decide how we will act in the forthcoming five-year term. We should tell people about it. It will be an open conversation between the government and representatives of the people”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that the Belarusian People’s Congress will gather skilled Belarusians, who excel at what they do and know the nation’s worries and concerns. “They will represent our nation. The government will be the other side. We should openly and honestly arrange this discussion by working out the relevant documents,” said the head of state.

“Shortcomings are obvious, there is no need to hide them. The nation sees them. We are going to recall all the good things created not only in the last five years but also in the period since Belarus gained independence,” added the President.

Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov delivered the main report during the government conference. The President asked several questions during the discussion. In particular, Aleksandr Lukashenko was interested in learning whether the goals that the Belarusian People’s Congress will discuss are intensive and feasible, what instruments are available for recovering the previous five-year term’s losses, and what needs to be done to secure economic growth at least as high as the world’s average — 2.5-3.5% per annum.

“Meanwhile, I don’t want to hear excessively pessimistic estimates that slide to the level of the previous years. No pessimism!” stressed the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko added that more than one meeting will be held to discuss preparations for the fifth Belarusian People’s Congress in the run-up to the actual event. “It is our exam, a serious exam. In the near future we are going to discuss various facts at different levels.”

The government conference lasted for about three hours and involved very vigorous and detailed discussions. In essence the draft main provisions of the program on the country’s social and economic development in 2016-2020 were a compromise document prepared with assistance of the government, the monitoring group led by Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Mikhail Myasnikovich, other government agencies and organizations. In the course of the conference top officials of the Belarus President Administration, the State Control Committee, the Academy of Sciences, oblast governors expressed their remarks and put forth their proposals. The main parameters for planning economic development were discussed in detail. Balanced development of the country is the main purpose of the five-year term.

It was noted that the suggested document contained a wise balance of continuity and novelties. However, more concrete tactics and ways to reach the set goals are necessary. The agreed priorities included effective investments, employment, and export.

The President demanded that the final form of the draft document should represent a concrete plan of practical actions that everyone can understand. Ten days were given to polish the document. The document needs to specify intensive goals as well as answers to vital questions of the citizenry, including the level of revenues, prices, housing construction plans, the policy of interest rates on loans, and other matters.

“What the government has suggested today is the foundation that will give rise to the program to be jointly developed yet,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.