Aleksandr Lukashenko holds meeting on operation of the President’s Property Management Directorate

    President of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko urged to raise the efficiency of organizations subordinate to the President’s Property Management Directorate and criticized results of their work at a government session held on 7 February to discuss efficiency improvement of the Property Management Directorate of the President of Belarus and subordinated organizations.

    “We are dissatisfied with the results shown by the organizations of the President’s Property Management Directorate. I can see strange – to put it mildly – manipulations with economic indicators. More than that, outright financial offenses have been revealed that fall under the jurisdiction of the Criminal Code. It is unbelievable how it was possible in the Directorate,” the head of state said.

    The head of state drew attention to what he called a dangerous stagnation in the work of this important body that manifests itself in virtually everything.

    “In the previous years, an increase in investments was the driving force behind company growth, while now that credit resources are getting more expensive and accounts receivable are increasing, the capital investment growth is slowing down. This trend can be observed in all the economic sectors against the backdrop of depreciation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    In his words, this year the country will have to explore new industries and new sales markets, increase the return on investments, and deal with negative trends.

    The head of state noted that upgrade projects in some organizations are making little headway. Sources of financing have not been determined yet; business plans of investment projects are not developed in time.

    “We expect higher rate of production modernization from every sector. The current course of events demands it, both the world market and the economy of the country. In fact the process has not even taken its start at these organizations. Today you have neither technologies nor scientific achievements to offer,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The President believes that upgrade and development projects should not only envisage a new technological level but also promote an increase in wages and income of workers. In his words, it is the most important social goal of modernization. First of all, it pertains to the folk crafts factories, logging producers and agricultural companies that make part of the Property Management Directorate.

    The head of state drew special attention to the construction and major repairs of objects: “Here we have an array of drawbacks. Disruptions in the delivery schedules, non-conformance with design-budget documentations, which entails rises in construction costs and deterioration in quality. The money allocated for construction is often used ineffectively. The quality leaves much to be desired.”

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also criticized the services sector. “What level is it at? At the international one? Doubt it. How much do we need to talk about the need to develop inbound tourism! No visible results yet. The infrastructure is virtually non-existent. Neither is roadside service. Fishing and hunting is what our hospitality industry is today,” the President said.

    The President urged a more balanced and well thought-out policy for efficient use of tourism potential of the national parks and forestry institutions.

    There is a need to expand the scope of services, to apply a flexible discount system taking into account seasonality factor, to conduct an effective advertising campaign.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also criticized the presentation of Belarusian goods abroad: “Efforts are being made in the country to preserve and develop the national cultural traditions. In the international arena, however, the presentation of these traditions is often carried out with the help of products that have nothing to do with the unique colors of Belarus. Where are the unique products that could be called true Belarusian, recognizable brands by all?”

    According to the President, there are serious faults in the human resources management: “They do not grow professionally. Often their qualifications are not up-to-date. We need an absolutely different picture. We need young promising managers and specialists able to revive the economy, financial policy and investment activities.”

    Aleksandr Lukashenko asked the new head of the Property Management Directorate to report on the reasons for the current negative situation, the ways to alter it and his concrete proposals.

    “I need the Property Management Directorate to fully meet the highest state level and be, as the saying goes, a trend setter here,” the head of state emphasized.

    Head of the President’s Property Management Directorate Viktor Sheiman, who was appointed about a month ago, told the government session about the main problems and proposed a number of measures to raise the efficiency of the organization.

    In his words, in 2012 the Property Management Directorate secured growth in majority of social and economic development indicators. However, deeper analysis of these indicator reveal a number of crafty methods to fulfill them, in particular, understatement of target plans in certain sectors. Viktor Sheiman stressed that all the figures will be thoroughly studied by the Collegium of the Property Management Directorate.

    Viktor Sheiman pointed out serious violations in effective spending of funds to implement public procurement contracts in construction and other industries. Such violations were unveiled by audit bodies, police, inter-agency working groups.

    According to the State Control Committee, 15 organizations of the Property Management Directorate carried out financial activities with legal persons engaged in pseudo-entrepreneurship.

    According to Viktor Sheiman, the main reasons for the existing problems in the organization are low efficiency of the administration system and, in certain cases, a low professional level of employees who are unable to resolve complex tasks. The administrative apparatus should be more flexible and operational. It lacks effective control. According to Viktor Sheiman, staff optimization will help deal with these negative factors. The administrative activity will be adjusted to new conditions, the issue of selection, placing, promotion and succession of personnel will be streamlined at all levels.

    The President’s Property Management Directorate will focus on employment of young highly-qualified personnel with a good command of modern management strategies and foreign languages, profound knowledge and expertise. “We will try to create a system to select the most talented university graduates, organize their professional training at the best Belarusian enterprises and, if necessary, abroad. We will use the national database of the talented youth. We will stop transferring people who failed to cope with the entrusted area of work to other executive posts,” Viktor Sheiman said.

    Moreover, there are plans to improve forms and methods of personnel qualifications assessment, including with the help of working groups created to supervise work of the personnel at their work places. As a result, the administrative apparatus is expected to become more flexible, mobile, and efficient. At the same time, Viktor Sheiman pointed out that the personnel will be reduced by 25% following the President’s instruction. “However, this is to be done in a competent and systematic manner,” the official stressed.

    Viktor Sheiman cited a number of examples of mistakes in the work with the administrative personnel. In his words, in 2012 the staff turnover in Beltransspetsavto made up 20%, in the main economic department 24.5%.

    As for production modernization, Viktor Sheiman stressed that in the near future it is necessary to provide production facilities with modern equipment, state-of-the-art technologies, use science achievements, train personnel. All enterprises should eventually branch out into new markets.

    Viktor Sheiman remarked that it is necessary to promote foreign economic activity. In his words, it is important to accelerate economic growth at all enterprises and organizations of the Property Management Directorate, start manufacturing competitive products and promote export. This pertains to tourism, exhibition, hotel, healthcare, cultural, education, catering and other services.

    Among the tasks facing the President’s Property Management Directorate, Viktor Sheiman named the smooth promotion of national art crafts, development of new Belarusian brands. In his view, this should be one of the main lines of business in the industry.

    “The services sector has a great potential. Yet it is not used efficiently. The volume of services does not correspond to costs, the range of services is much smaller than in western countries, the quality of services merits special attention, Viktor Shieman said, and stressed that the spa and wellness organizations are not attractive enough to foreign nationals in terms of price/quality.

    In this connection Aleksandr Lukashenko ordered to increase the range of services, quality, and step up advertising and consumer awareness campaigns, including in the run-up to the 2014 IIHF World Championship.

    Viktor Sheiman said that all forecast targets for 2013 will be fulfilled.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko warned officials of the President’s Property Management Directorate against corruption and mismanagement.

    “I would like to mention that everything I say I mean it. Some of our managers of the protected areas, nature reserves, forests and so on are beginning to knit up kinship ties, come into possession of big lands and lease them under the roof of the state, I warn you against! Only one complaint or a remark and you will be talking to a prosecutor. I guarantee you this. So you still have some time to bring everything in order, to compensate for everything you have accidentally appropriated or given to your relatives. Better pay twice as much. Freedom is more expensive,” the President said.

    Addressing Viktor Sheiman, Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed hope that he will bring order to this very important, image-forming sector of the Belarusian state.