Aleksandr Lukashenko holds government session on privatization

    Any enterprise in Belarus can be privatized for the right price, President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko told a government session held on 30 March to discuss privatization matters.

    “We have always said we are not against privatization. But the country will not have landslide privatization. It is out of the question as long as I am the president. When I am not the president, it is up to you to sell enterprises, property, land or the country as a whole. Although if I am alive, I will always oppose the idea,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The President underlined that privatization in Belarus is not just a legal matter but something the Belarusian nation has suffered for. “This matter is in the center of all political events because privatization is a complicated thing. Simply speaking, we are talking about the sale and purchase of the state property that has been created by many generations of our people,” the head of state said.

    The President believes that the process of selling and buying property in the country is normal. According to the head of state, the existing privatization procedures are quite good. “What do not you like? We have two levels of ownership: municipal property and national property,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told those present. “Why do we have to divide enterprises into the ones we do not need and the ones we do? You know it would be unfair towards the population. All the enterprises where our people work are important for the country. Why do we need to divide them into strategic ones and non-strategic ones?” the head of state added.

    “Any enterprise can be privatized without exceptions. Why do we have to conceal things?" the President stressed and added: "We have to make it clear once and for all: no ubiquitous privatization, privatization is pinpoint, if the state needs it, and all Belarusian enterprises can be privatized for the right price”.

    "Why do we have to conceal things? Beltransgaz was a strategic enterprise. Its privatization was forbidden. Yet we privatized it. Why do we have to confuse things so that later we would have to pass a law to remove an enterprise from the list of enterprises, which privatization is forbidden and so on?" the President said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko admitted that the existing privatization procedure is complicated and could do with less bureaucracy. “But we do not sell something of ours. It was not us who created it. Therefore, we have to bargain,” he said.

    “Today we say that we are not against privatization of such strategic enterprise as Belaruskali which brings us in fat years up to $3 billion in revenue. We are not against it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He reminded that the price had been determined and now it makes up over $30 billion. “Do our people blame us for it? No. Have we sold it? No, we have not. We have put the price which has been welcomed by many international financial institutions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I said “no” to those who wanted to buy it for as little as $15 billion,” he added.

    “I think we should go this way. Those, who are interested in purchasing our assets, know what we have got. If they do not, they are welcome to come. We have a lot to offer, but they should know it is not cheap,” the President said.

    The President said he was concerned about reports from oblast governors regarding what privatization has produced. “Now the president has to axe these processes. Once our enterprises seemed to work well after privatization but now they are objects of scheming. Who will be responsible for it?” the head of state wondered.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko was also interested in results produced by offering shares of Belarusian enterprises for sale at the stock exchange. “Who bought them? What money was paid? Those, who bought the shares, did they start working better? What benefits our nation and the state have gained?” the President asked.

    The President also stressed that privatization in Belarus will not be performed in order to please some countries or associations. “If you want the International Monetary Fund to like you, the European Union, America, Russia or someone else by declaring that we will sell this or that, do it without me and not on my watch. Getting other countries to like you is a good idea, it is useful but not at this price. Privatizing the country is not something worth doing in order to get someone to like you,” the head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko told participants of the session: “Does anyone here want to take part in the privatization of some enterprises, to buy a share? Go ahead, quit being a government executive, get your money out of your pockets if you have some and buy an enterprise on common terms. If there are people like that. But according to my information you may have money for thousand bricks or ten cubic meters of concrete blocks, I do not know whether you have money to buy more”.

    In conclusion Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “Great Deng Xiaoping would say: whatever the cat may be, as long as it can catch mice, it is a good cat. Therefore, it does not matter what form of ownership is used. It is important that an enterprise can manufacture good products, pay good salaries to workers without forgetting to pay taxes”.