Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Mikhail Myasnikovich to receive his report

    On 17 April Prime Minister of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich informed President Aleksandr Lukashenko about the state of affairs in the country's economy in Q1 2012.

    In a meeting with the Belarusian Prime Minister, Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded to look into the issue concerning pressure of certain banks on Belarusian companies. In his words, he has already drawn the attention of the Prime minister and the head of the National Bank to this issue.

    "I have enough information that foreign banks are conducting a stick and carrot policy in a bid to draw the resources of our large companies. There is pressure on our companies. It is unacceptable. I am for competition, but it should be fair," the President stressed.

    Mikhail Myasnikovich reported that today Belarusian companies have a right to open accounts abroad only with the permit of the National Bank. The flow of funds on these accounts is under proper control.

    The government will also take additional measures to make the activity of commercial banks more transparent in order to avoid any unfair transactions and protect the interests of the country in this sector, Mikhail Myasnikovich added.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the process of implementation of state programs. In his words, spending under state programs is not always rational.

    The head of state cited as a vivid example of dissipation of resources the Mogilev highway which construction has been under way for more than five years.

    The President warned the Prime Minister that cases of the kind must not be repeated in the construction of the highway to Gomel.

    “We spend great amounts of money on the things we do not need and do not have to do. We will never be rich keeping this way,” the head of state added.

    President Aleksandr Lukashenko believes the production of marble meat can be a profitable project for Belarus. “I see the issue provokes giggling. Today a meal with marble meat in Moscow, not Europe, costs $45 in a restaurant. We can sell it for $15. It is profitable since we buy meat at $2 per kilo from our farms. But we have not created necessary conditions yet. People complain that it is still unprofitable. Good breeds have been imported. The expenditure is too high. They have to sell meat at $2 per kilo. Why? Because we lack proper processing technologies and markets. Today Russia witnesses an increasing demand for this meat. I am sure Belarus will be quick in understanding its good properties. In Pripyat there is a lot of idle land which can be used for pasture. Moreover, the cattle does not require any special housing conditions,” the head of state said.

    “Livestock is a good business. That is why I gave orders to give a boost to it, create cattle. But we still need processing and marketing technologies otherwise we will lose what we have achieved so far,” the President noted.

    Not long ago the President instructed Vice Premier Mikhail Rusyi to address the issue. He urged to build a meat processing plant in Polesye and adopt European packaging technologies. “We can sell a part of it to Minsk restaurants and export the rest, to Russia, for instance. This is a good business for our farms,” the President added.

    “This is just one example. There are a lot of other projects that can be implemented. The Netherlands, for instance, earns up to $15 billion selling its farm produce. We have set forth a task to reach $7 billion in agricultural sales by the end of the ongoing five-year period. We can do just as well as the Netherlands. We even have more favorable conditions for this,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    In Q1 the national industry showed 10.4% in profitability of sales, agriculture – 15.3%. Thus, the marketing policy indicates an improved situation for the economic agents of the country.

    The Belarusian government signals that the country shows favorable conditions to raise salaries and relax interest rates on loans. The local budgets registered a total of Br3.9 trillion in surplus in Q1 2012. The bulk of it accumulated in Minsk, Minsk and Brest Oblasts. “We can say that surplus is produced where prime attention is focused on production diversification and profitable projects,” Mikhail Myasnikovich said. The President emphasized that people should be rewarded for hard work. “There is a good time to address the issues in the utilities sector, public transport, wages and interest rates on banking loans which are still very high,” the Premier said.

    As for the operation of the economy in general, the statistics of the first two months showed the surplus of $838 million. The foreign currency inflow to Belarus exceeded its outflow by $900 million in January-February 2012.

    The sales turnover was on the rise. In January it was at 103.5% over a relatively high level of Q1 2011 when there was an increased demand for goods. This figure grew 10.5% more this March.

    President Aleksandr Lukashenko approved the measures suggested by the government to increase the first category wage rate within 5% in May. According to the Premier, there has been developed a system letting the companies regulate the issues of remuneration of labor themselves, and many companies are making a good use of this mechanism. A great majority of strategically important companies in the country have a high payroll rate.

    “An increase in salaries for public-sector employees and military in May will be sponsored, first of all, by means of the resources saved up by the companies through optimization of workforce, reduction of expenditure on, for instance, maintenance, transport, acquisition of furniture, equipment and etc. The national budget envisages spending for these purposes as well,” Mikhail Myasnikovich said.

    In Q1 2012 the financing under state programs in the agricultural sector reached 25% of the annual plan, in construction – 21%. The resources were put into the construction of dairy farms, housing and the associated infrastructure. In January-March there were commissioned 1.3 million square meters of housing.