Aleksandr Lukashenko meets with Vice Premier of Belarus Piotr Prokopovich

    The complex modernization of the Belarus economy as well as the work of small and medium business were discussed as Vice Premier of Belarus Piotr Prokopovich delivered his report to Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko on 9 December.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that modernization or manufacturing improvement is a continuous process. “Even if we create a new enterprise today, tomorrow we have to make it better. Otherwise, we will fall behind. I am not saying it in response to the criticism some of our opponents voice, complaining that modernization did not start in a good time, that it costs a lot and so on. There is no good time. Modernization is necessary every day,” believes the head of state. “We have to pay attention to everything and make it better, starting with ourselves and ending with what is around us. There is no doubt about that”.

    The President pointed out he was concerned about another thing. “I would like you to dispel my concerns. Yes, we are modernizing enterprises primarily to make good export products, because export is a priority for us, we need foreign currency, it has always been an issue for us. It is likely we will have to be dealing with this issue for a long time just like countries similar to Belarus have. Are we going to once again have our warehouses full if we are unable to sell merchandise although we put efforts into modernization, have borrowed money abroad, have bought good equipment, and have made a product?” asked the head of state.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that modernization is meant to secure a more competitive product for selling on international markets.

    The head of state also drew attention to the development of small and medium enterprises, problems in their operation, and the readiness of businesses to work in small towns where preferential terms have been granted to them. The President said he wanted to know about the situation regarding unused state property and its future involvement in the economic turnover.

    Piotr Prokopovich remarked that the complex modernization of the Belarus economy is the key direction of the government’s work because it allows raising labor productivity and address issues with regard to the competitive ability of the economy. The program for complex modernization has been developed at 2,820 enterprises with a state property share, including 701 enterprises with the state share as large as or exceeding 50%. The Vice Premier said that for now modernization efforts are below expectations: roughly 42% of the enterprises successfully proceed with the modernization program while 25-30% are below the planned targets. Some other enterprises have failed to start technical, investment modernization due to various reasons ranging from unprepared documents and ending with no tenders held to buy equipment.

    The modernization of enterprises is designed to be accomplished in 2013-2015. According to Piotr Prokopovich, in the time that is still available the government will do their utmost to fix the situation at the enterprises that have fallen behind this year.

    The President pointed out that it was necessary to carry out economic modernization, too, as it produces results as good as the ones secured via technical modernization but without material investments. The management systems have to be improved and the latest ones should be introduced. Requirements and technologies with regard to the quality of products, the reduction of prime costs, material and energy intensity must be followed.

    Speaking about small and medium enterprises, Piotr Prokopovich said that their share was on the rise. In 2013 the share stood at 24% of the GDP, in 2014 it is expected to reach 27%. By the end of the five-year term the figure is supposed to reach 30% in line with the relevant instruction issued by the head of state. Piotr Prokopovich said he believes that there are many reserves and opportunities for the development of small and medium businesses, in particular, in the production sector and agriculture.

    The head of state pointed out that the opportunities brought about by the modernization of woodworking enterprises should be used in full. He believes small and medium businesses should be encouraged in this direction, particularly in the furniture industry in order to increase export and use up waste products of the woodworking industry.

    The President gave instructions to analyze what slows down the development of small and medium business and prepare a report for him.