Aleksandr Lukashenko hears out report from Belarus Premier Mikhail Myasnikovich

    President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko heard out a report from Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich on 21 February.

    The President was interested in whether the instructions that were issued to the government last year had been fulfilled and suggested discussing current matters of the country’s economic development. The government is expected to provide a detailed report regarding performance in 2012 and approaches to fulfilling performance goals in 2013 at an extended session of the Council of Ministers. The session is supposed to take place soon under the supervision of the head of state.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko was interested in how issues relating to the delivery of the necessary equipment for modernizing the Bereza state district power plant were dealt with.

    Apart from that, the head of state drew attention of the Prime Minister to the matter of housing paid for by employers. “It seems that we have to get rid of the service housing pool that we have created. It is necessary to create a rented housing pool,” the President believes.

    “People, who get service housing, should live just like all the citizens of Belarus do. We may give a rented apartment to a person, who we invite to work in Minsk. The person may pay something, the rent may be lower than the market one but it will be more civilized and fair,” remarked Aleksandr Lukashenko.

    The President said he wanted all the issues settled as early as H1 2013. The head of state said he believes it is possible to preserve some service housing to be allocated only in exceptional cases by the government or with approval of the President.

    The Prime Minister said that a draft presidential decree was being prepared to address the matter of rented housing and service housing. Details will be reported to the President after that.

    The performance of the national economy at the beginning of the year was high on the agenda of the meeting. In January Belarusian enterprises operated steadily, cash earnings of the population were on the rise, and deposits in Belarusian banks rise rather lively.

    The working meeting also touched upon the cost of loans, which is excessive for the production sector. The fact deteriorates the economic growth and the development of economic operators, including their modernization.

    To address the problem, the government and the National Bank have put together a step by step strategy to reduce interest rates. Using its instruments the National Bank has managed to resolve the problem of raising the liquidity of commercial banks, bringing down interest rates on the interbank market. “It is one of the prerequisites for making loans more affordable,” explained the Prime Minister. Work is also in progress to bring deposit rates and the refinancing rate closer to each other. Work will be continued to reduce the use of US dollars in the economy.

    Thus, the availability of loans for the real sector of the economy will be improved considerably. “We think that virtually in the first half of the year these issues will be resolved,” remarked Mikhail Myasnikovich.

    The construction of homes for people, who do not use state support, was discussed. This year there are plans to build 6.5 million square meters of housing, including 2.5 million square meters for people, who have the right to use state support. Stable lending is in progress in this sphere. Appropriations for the engineering infrastructure have been increased considerably at the expense of the state budget. Yet it is necessary to build 4 million square meters of housing at the expense of the citizens, who are on the housing register but do not use state support.

    Taking into account that housing loans are rather expensive, the government has discussed the matter with several commercial banks. According to the Prime Minister, Belarusbank, Belagroprombank, and Belinvestbank have already decided to offer housing loans at 16% per annum to people in need of better homes, at 14% per annum in rural areas, and at 12% per annum to large families. Large families represent one of the categories of people, who are entitled to state support, but in some cases the legislation requires them to use proprietary savings or loans, explained Mikhail Myasnikovich.

    “It is quite a serious decision that we have made together with the banks, the National Bank to make credit resources affordable for the population and economic operators,” added the Prime Minister. While accomplishing that the government plans to keep this year’s inflation at 12%.

    Preparations for the spring sowing campaign were also reported to the head of state. The amount of seed material is sufficient, even taking into account unfavorable weather conditions. Various kinds of work are in progress, including the preparation of machines. However, the purchase of mineral fertilizers by agricultural enterprises is a problem, which is being addressed, including with assistance of banks. The Prime Minister assured that the works that will make up the foundation of this year’s harvest will be completed on time and in full.
    Important matters concerning operation within the framework of the Single Economic Space were discussed as well. Mikhail Myasnikovich said: “We are extremely concerned by the fact that our partners in the Single Economic Space make unilateral decisions that in essence destroy the common market”. The issue as well as other ones may be discussed at the session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State in Saint Petersburg on 15 March.