Aleksandr Lukashenko partakes in Dazhynki 2012 harvesting festival in Gorki

    The government will keep providing all kinds of support to rural residents and will help them deal with all the most complicated issues related to agricultural production, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the national harvesting festival Dazhynki 2012 in Gorki, Mogilev Oblast.

    On 21 September Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a working visit to Mogilev Oblast. The President was informed about the social and economic development of Gorki District.

    According to Mogilev Oblast Governor Piotr Rudnik, Gorki authorities have done a lot to gear up for the festival. They repaired roads, beautified central streets, squares, and parks. A total of 246 facilities were commissioned. The region spend about Br745 billion for these purposes.

    A lot had been done to achieve today’s outlook of the area. Unused manufacturing premises have been demolished, unnecessary worn-out buildings in villages have been removed, agricultural enterprises have been enlarged, new complexes and dairy farms have been built.

    According to the head of state, today’s Gorki District is an example and an ideal for every other district of Belarus to follow.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the training dairy farm and the salmon hatchery run by the Belarusian State Agricultural Academy in Gorki.

    The farm is meant for the training of students and developing and testing new methods and technologies in the dairy industry, and adaptation of foreign technologies to domestic needs.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the farm, milking parlors, cattle barns fitted with modern equipment. The farm has 557 head on the average, the average annual milk yield is 7,000kg per cow. The training dairy farm is unmatched in the CIS.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko studied the physical infrastructure and technological processes of growing salmon fish, in particular, rainbow trout.

    The President was informed about the fulfilment of his instructions to set up a salmon hatchery and fish production prospects in Belarus.

    Belarus has plans to produce about 4,000 tonnes of salmon species in 2015.

    The fish hatchery set up in the Belarusian State Agricultural Academy specializes in the production of rainbow trout and other valuable species of salmon. The hatchery boasts perfect conditions for fish hatching. The entire production cycle is automated and does not depend on external environment. Unique water cleaning technologies ensure high quality of the hatch. The young fish will be supplied to fish producers and specialized organizations of Belarus and exported to the CIS countries. The hatchery will also grow rare and endangered species of fish to be later released into their national habitat.

    The fish hatchery can produce three million tonnes of rainbow trout per year. The hatchery is composed of four modules, each of them having an independent and modern system of water conditioning and treatment.

    All the technologies used by the hatchery meet international standards and requirements. The equipment was developed by a Finnish company together with a company from the Netherlands. These companies designed over 30 similar hatcheries in Europe, Asia and South America. Another three facilities like that are to be set up.

    At the opening ceremony of the Dazhynki 2012 harvesting festival the President said: “First of all, this is a tribute of respect to the ancient Slavonic custom. It had been cherished in Belarus at all times. Vivid rites and songs were dedicated to this holiday. They illustrate rich labor and life experience of the nation, its wisdom, its unique identity. Secondly, this is the sign of deep respect and recognition of the merits of our farmers and those who dedicated their lives to the agricultural industry.”

    In his words, the festival praises arduous work which was needed to reap bumper harvest.

    The President thanked farmers for zeal and diligence, with which they continue “to forge the shield of food security of the Homeland”. “The results of this year’s harvesting campaign show that we cope with the task,” Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized.

    The head of state believes that the country needs to build up a powerful agricultural sector. “We see that the situation is complicated on the global food market. International experts talk about a huge deficit of agricultural products this year. Our traditional partners, including Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and other CIS member states, are posting a considerably smaller yield of grain and other crops. The biggest grain producer, the United States, is also predicted to harvest a smaller amount of grain crops. The situation in many European countries is expected to be just as bad,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    It is obvious that the prices for agricultural produce will be on the rise, the President stressed. “This trend has already become pronounced. Therefore, besides meeting our domestic needs and reducing food import, we need to maximize our export thus strengthening our agriculture and the entire economy in general. After all, we managed to grow a record high amount of grain crops and vegetables,” the head of state said.

    Import substitution is just as important as export expansion. “We need to produce everything that grows in Belarus, we need to challenge and replace imported products. We are well-positioned to achieve this goal. Over the last years we managed to reduce grain imports tenfold. We have made good progress in other fields as well,” the Belarusian leader said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed confidence that Belarus will reach the European average in the agricultural sector. “We can do it!” the President is convinced.

    The agricultural sector also needs to enhance profitability of production. “I would like to make it clear: the agricultural sector can and should demonstrate output growth and good profit. The mechanism of enhancing profitability is well-known: reduced costs, reasonable thrift, and good management. We need to realize at last that this will give a competitive edge to our farm produce and improve the well-being of rural residents,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    According to the President, rural residents “can by right be proud of their achievements”: the country posted the biggest grain yield in its history; the grain output fully meets domestic needs. “The gross yield of grain and leguminous crops grown by all types of agricultural producers neared 9.2 million tonnes, up by one million compared to the previous year. It is almost one tonne per every Belarusian. We could only dream about it before, but today the dreams have come true,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. He added that all the regions increased grain production, which exceeded one million tonnes.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko thanked everyone who took part in the harvesting campaign and promised that the state will continue supporting the countryside. “The state will continue providing all-round support to the countryside. Belarusian peasants will not be left alone with the most difficult issues related to agricultural production,” the President said. In his words, the government helped renew the pool of farm machines and keeps financing the technical upgrade of agricultural companies.

    “We have seen one more time that we made the right decision when we opted for intensive development of big agricultural companies. Look what happened: we did not divide the country into small pieces of land to distribute them among farmers. We created big agricultural companies and it is bearing fruit,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “If some 12-15 years ago we had decided to do what they, including the West, pushed us to do, we would have destroyed agriculture. We would have separate pieces of land, which would never generate the same effect we are getting now,” Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced.

    According to the President, Belarus has come up with the necessary management solutions and created the necessary physical infrastructure for intensive agricultural production. “Well-developed mechanical industry allows us to fully meet the domestic demand for farm machines. The country produces modern tractors, harvesters, the entire range of fodder harvesting machines, trailers and devices,” the head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko gave awards to the winners of the 2012 nationwide harvesting competition.

    The President also answered the questions of reporters. Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked about the efforts to beautify Gorki and the district before the festival. Aleksandr Lukashenko was satisfied with the changes.

    “What we have done in Gorki District we should do for every district. This one is a paragon,” the President believes. “For me Gorki District is important because of the memories and because it is the basic district in the north, northeast of Belarus,” the head of state said. The President pointed out that a lot had been done to achieve today’s outlook of the area. “Unused manufacturing premises have been demolished, unnecessary worn-out buildings in villages have been removed, agricultural enterprises have been enlarged, new complexes and dairy farms with the world’s best technologies to train our students have been built. Everything here has been made to show how one should work the land. No need to go to Denmark or Netherlands to see that. We have travelled the world already and have brought the best here”.

    “Gorki District is a pillar, the future, an example to develop all the other districts of Belarus. For me today’s Gorki District is an ideal that all of us should aim for,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. He added that there are things still to polish.

    Mass media representatives were interested whether he believed that the tasks he set for the government at a recent meeting were feasible. The tasks involve the modernization of Belarusian enterprises and raising the average salary up to $600 in 2013.

    Speaking about the instruction to modernize enterprises, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that mass media may have failed to correctly understand him. “It is impossible to modernize enterprises within one year. I am a pragmatic man and I understand it clearly. Therefore, it was said that every enterprise head ranging from small ones to BelAZ should have a modernization plan and financial calculations. They may span a year, two, three, five years. But every executive must have this plan and it should be implemented starting this year. It may take a year to compile these plans for those, who do not have them”.

    The President said that many Belarusian enterprises already have modernization plans, for instance, Naftan does. “But some are just idly sitting and waiting for something,” the Belarusian leader remarked.

    He also stressed that the modernization of enterprises was meant to enable the enterprises to make competitive products. Revenues from selling those products will respectively allow raising salaries for the employees. The task is really feasible, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. “If is not, then no executive will work. The task has been set. It has to be accomplished and the nation should be informed that it has been done. Then we are viable as the government”.

    According to the President, the lists of people in need of better housing must be put into order. “We have to put these things into order. And we will do it whatever the cost,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed. Speaking about preferential interest rates for housing construction loans, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there are population categories that the government should either provide with preferential loans or give homes right away. For instance, those are large families and the military.

    The head of state drew attention to the need to resolve the demographic problem. “If we want to resolve this problem, we should help people resolve the housing problem. It is the most important thing. Therefore, we should give free homes or provide a massive respite for preferential loans”.

    “Those, who cannot build homes themselves, and those that need the state support make up queues. Every year the number of people in those queues gets larger while millions of square meters of homes are built,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He remarked that many people find ways to request state support for home construction more than once. “Such people must be weeded out. We cannot give away homes every year. If you get aid one time, do not think about coming another time. Such people will be punished up to apartment seizure”. “Therefore, I gave instructions to verify the queue by 2 April, finalize it and see who we can help. It is not difficult,” the Belarusian head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned abuse of office performed by individual civil servants. “Some civil servants like it happened in Gomel re-sold dozens of apartments and kept the money. Criminal investigations have been launched and more than one civil servant and their relatives and accomplices will be tried”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also spoke about the construction of homes to rent as a way to resolve the housing problem. “It is a new kind of services and we are already providing them”. An instruction was issued to Minsk Mayor Nikolai Ladutko recently to commission as many apartments to rent as possible. We are starting to commission such homes on a large scale”. Yet the President underscored that the variant does not suit everyone. The government will continue providing preferential interest loans to some population categories in the future.

    “We will get apartments to rent. We already have several homes in Minsk. I think we will develop the market very fast in Minsk and other cities of the country,” the President said.

    There are no plans to introduce different utility bills depending on the person’s income. “We cannot bill an average man for 100% of the utilities cost today and even next year. He just will not be able to pay it. What can we do? We are thinking about ways to ask very rich people to help pay the utility bills,” the head of state said.

    “Many businessmen with the annual income from $2 million to $20 million have talked to me. Cannot they afford paying it? They have good houses, good apartments, they pay $200 for utilities. Cannot they pay $400? It will be 200% even while I am talking about 120%. They could even pay 300%. But we have to take into account every person,” the head of state said. “Certainly, if we force a doctor to pay 150%, it would be expensive. We have 350,000, nearly 400,000 self-employed businessmen and private entrepreneurs. They can pay slightly more than 100%,” the head of state believes. “But we have to know these people. We should organize their registration and they will just help,” he said.

    “It does not mean that we should differentiate services depending on the salary size: those, who get $300, should pay 20%, those, who get $500, should pay 80%, those, who get $1,000 per month, should pay 150%. No, it will not do!” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

    “Since it was an improvisation, we are now thinking about ways to ask very rich people to help us pay for utilities. It is a temporary period,” the head of state remarked.

    The President also added that the matter needs serious thinking over. “If we get $1,000 as the average salary, we will forget about the problem. People will just pay for themselves,” the President noted.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also believes that some people are now very wasteful about utilities. “They do not treasure gas, water, or heating. They cost a lot to provide. Now we have an easy time with natural gas, we get oil from Russia without duties, we have just talked with Vladimir Putin about it, but it is only temporary. Tomorrow we will get European level of prices just like we did last year. It is time to get prepared for it. If you consume something, be ready to pay for it,” the President said.

    “People must understand what it costs and everyone should strive for it. But we should give them time. They need this time until we give them well-paid jobs,” the head of state said. “Every method is fine. Those, who earn excessive revenues, will pay slightly more, those with lower revenues will pay less, those who have money for bread and water only will need time to get better paid,” the President added.

    “Therefore, do not cry that tomorrow all your money will be taken away to pay for utilities,” Aleksandr Lukashenko concluded.

    When speaking about the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the head of state noted that the final decision who he should vote for will be made on 23 September. “But definitely I will vote for a person, who has seen life, who has tried to make something with his or her own hands. It is important for me. And I want such people to work with me, moreover, members of the parliament,” the head of state said.

    “They should be strong. They should come and write laws. They do not have to shout in the parliament and in the streets. They should write laws,” the President said. “Therefore, I will definitely vote for a person with experience. But speaking it, I urge others to vote for someone, who has tried to make something with his or her own hands,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked he had not involved himself in the election campaign. “Let them say now how the dictator influenced the elections. We have Andreichenko and Yermoshina to take care of the elections. Nobody else. The governors and the President Administration are helping them. The government is totally out of it, it is not their business. Trust me, we are definitely not going where we should not be. Did anyone need me during this pre-election campaign? They have not requested my help a single time”.

    “So I am staying out of the pre-election campaign. There are people to do concrete work,” the President said. “I have to take care of the most important thing in this situation: I have to keep things calm in the country so that nobody would hinder anyone’s life,” the head of state stressed.

    The President said that by boycotting the elections the opposition shows its weakness. “These parties have demonstrated that they are nothing. They will now completely lose even the dozen of people that had looked up to them,” he said. “On the other hand, they did the right thing because we do not need candidates like that. You know what parties those are and what candidates those are,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    “Why are you not ready to fight now? Are you getting shot at, chocked, poisoned here? We even force them to go and meet people: go and stand next to the government’s candidate, as they say, and campaign in front of the people. But they are afraid to meet the people,” the Belarusian head of state believes. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, they do not need the power. “They get paid a bit. Enough for bread and salt. They used to build cottages when they promised a lot, they have bought cars. Now the West does not give money because the West does not see the results it wanted. Why do they need power? They would have to answer the people then,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    “They thought that they could pose for pictures or movies to show their resistance to the system that is now in place. But today’s system does not prevent you from running for the parliament,” the President said. “They will not be able to divide the country now even if they rise to power because you will not let them to. You will not agree to this because you have seen already where it can lead”.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also said that a discussion has yet to be held to summarize the elections after they are over.

    President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko has unveiled details of the recent meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Sochi. The talks were dominated by the forthcoming session of the Supreme State Council of the Union State. “We agreed that the Supreme State Council will be held somewhere on 18-19 December; a session of the Union State Council of Ministers will be held on the eve. First of all, we need to discuss financial matters and adopt the Union State budget for the next year. At the session of the Council of Ministers we are going to discuss some issues of the Belarus-Russia agenda,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. On the same days Moscow will host a summit of the CSTO and a session of the leaders of the Single Economic Space member states. At the meeting the two presidents also discussed the tentative agenda of these sessions.

    “We also discussed a number of defense and political matters, the situation on our border. The situation is complicated. Illegal migration to Europe is frightening. Security officials also report numerous attempts to cross the border by people carrying explosives,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The Belarusian President spoke about the financial part of the border security theme. “I have signalled it to Europeans that we cannot protect them from all the stuff moving across our border using solely our own resources, although we are trying hard to do something. On the other hand, I put it straight – give money and we will catch them. Belarus is not their final destination, they are going further, where they have been invited to,” the President said.

    Top on the agenda of the meeting was also military and defense cooperation between Belarus and Russia. A number of concrete arrangements have been reached in this field. The parties discussed joint anti-terrorist efforts.

    “We have a joint air defense system. We talked a lot concerning the air force. I requested support and I have got it. In the near future we will get modern aircraft to put on duty at the border,” the Belarus President said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that the operating life of the military aircraft Belarus uses now is about to expire. “We can use them in time of war but in time of peace we need new normal aircraft. We have reached a relevant agreement. The President of Russia and I agreed to secure our border properly”.

    “We discussed military and technical cooperation. We agreed that all our enterprises will take part in tenders for the state defense procurement contracts of the Russian Federation. If some machines in Russia are created and we have components for these machines, we will have the right to directly talk to these enterprises. And they could talk back,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    The President remarked that the current practice is to treat Belarusian components, which are supplied to make Russian army hardware, as foreign ones. “We have agreed to stop this,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

    “An agreement was reached on the exchange of land plots. We asked another seven hectares in Krasnaya Polyana. We need to finish the construction of the complex, we are working on it. The matter was settled,” the President said.

    The two presidents also discussed situations in various zones of responsibility of the CSTO. “Vladimir Putin spoke a lot about Russia and the situation there. The meeting lasted about five hours. We covered all the issues we had planned and even some that we had not planned,” the Belarusian head of state said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on some speculations both in Belarus and Russia related to the meeting of the two presidents. “I looked at the nonsense babbled by our fifth column and some people living in Moscow – they are simply idiots. Total nonsense, what they talked about was not even discussed by us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    “That was a very productive meeting in an absolutely friendly atmosphere. I left with an impression that we finally understood that it will be hard for us to find friends in this world and we need to stick to each other, being two Russian peoples in a broad meaning of this word, otherwise we will be hit one by one,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.