Aleksandr Lukashenko visits Belarusian State Economic University
Belarus should use opportunities of the global market to determine economy growth points. Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement at the meeting with students and teachers of the International Economic Relations Department of the Belarusian State Economic University on 12 November.
The President was informed about the university’s development prospects. The head of state visited the sports complex which can accommodate up to 120 students.
Aleksandr Lukashenko met with BSEU students and read the lecture “Belarus in Terms of Globalization: Growth Points and Prospects”.
According to the head of state, sovereign Belarus uses its own tried and tested economic development model, which relies on a combination of market economy institutions and effective mechanisms of government control and the implementation of a powerful social policy.
The economic model has been tried and tested and has become the strategic foundation for the development of the Belarusian state. Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the system survives because it is flexible and gets constantly modernized.
The President in convinced that it is important to keep the government control over economic processes. The Belarusian economy is affected by crisis phenomena that happen across the globe. In his opinion, the government has no right to leave the economy when the economy is wide open.
“We often argue about it with Westerners and even Russian colleagues. Many say that the government should stay out of the economy or its presence should be miniscule. However, nobody has come up with a scale to measure involvement. But we have been clearly and determinedly saying from the start that government control should not be removed from the economy,” said the head of state. In his words, there are many heated arguments about the social aspect, too. Many say that a person should be responsible for himself and the economy should not contain any social component. “We have been univocally saying for many years that everything that exists in the state should cater to the individual,” said the President.
According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the government should be present in areas where it does no harm, particularly in economy. “But there are workers and enterprises, which are of strategic importance for the government and which should not be allowed to slip out of the government’s grasp. The global crisis is a proof of that. Everyone in the West now cries for the return of regulation, control, and management functions to the government. Which country, do you think, was the first one to cry for it? The United States of America. Economists have forgotten their theory. In Europe – Frenchmen and Germans – have also started talking about regulation, regulation of finances at that. Russia used to criticize us a bit but it is now talking about the regulation, including the regulation of the banking industry, finances. The creation of a super regulator is under consideration,” he said.
According to the President, it is impossible to return to state administration and perform the functions of control and regulation of economic processes tens of years later. “If the leverage is lost, if the government has not done it for some time, it is very difficult to resume doing it,” he remarked. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that there was no need to hurry up with saying farewell to some government control and administration functions. “If we wanted to criminalize the economy one more time, we could leave it alone and could get the full set of crimes that exist in some countries, including so-called democratic and developed economy ones,” said the President.
The head of state pointed out that the Belarusian economy is one of the most open economies. Belarus exports products to markets of 149 countries. According to the World Bank, the world’s average export to the GDP ratio stands at 30% while in Belarus it goes all the way to 68%. “We are in the midst of global economic processes, which influence only rises year after year. It was vividly demonstrated by the global crisis of 2008, which consequences are still felt by strong countries. The virus that caused the disease has a name – speculative capital, which volume had grown out of proportions in comparison with the real sector,” remarked the President. In his opinion, the government that has moved out of the economy bears part of the blame.
“Moreover, developed nations do not deal with the piled up problems systematically. Instead they bury the problems under printed money, thus exporting inflation to the developing world. To us among other countries,” said the head of state.
“It is very important for us to understand it, take into account similar mistakes and avoid them,” said the President.
The President stressed that he is in favor of the state-business partnership.
According to the head of state, this is one of the promising ways to develop the Belarusian economy and improve the wellbeing of the people.
“I have always said that I am not against private property. I am for more private ownership that promotes personal fulfillment, for more rich people who benefit themselves and the state, who set up new productions, new jobs, pay taxes and decent salaries,” the President said. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that for such businessmen Belarus offers the most favorable conditions.
Addressing the students, Aleksandr Lukashenko cautioned them against certain nihilism: “Today, everyone wants to be a big businessman. But remember: for example, you try your hand at business and fail, and then you start to make some noise, take to streets saying the state does not create the conditions, and this is the reason why you have failed. The reason is 95-99% not about the state. The reason is in you or those who tried but failed in business.”
The President noted that business is very tough and hard. “There are very few 25-year-olds who succeeded at that age in business. At this time they are just starting up and have to go through a thorny path. This is tough work, and it is not so much about the lack of conditions. It is simple because millions of people cannot be talented in doing business.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko added that from an economic point of view, Belarus has it all in terms of business development.
The head of state emphasized that when it comes to private property, he is in favor of private property created by one’s own work. “I am very careful and cautious about privatization of public property. I am the last one to put the signature; therefore I am the one to bear the entire responsibility. While permitting privatization of a certain company I always answer one question: what will the public think about my actions?” the President said. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that before buying a company every investor should make sure he meets 25 requirements, including production upgrade, tax payment, increase in salaries, and others. “If you are ready and agree to do that, good for you, if you are not ready, we will not even talk with you,” the President said. He added that privatization should be fair and transparent.
“The privatization process is very bureaucratic and I am not going to eliminate this bureaucracy,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that there is a certain process you need to complete to get an asset in Belarus. “You should convince a company’s team that you are a good investor, get a privatization permit from local authorities and a respective ministry; after that the government studies the matter, makes a decision and submits a corresponding document to the President for signing”.
In this respect the President said about the possible privatization of Belaruskali. “The price has been determined. Today all the Westerners say that Lukashenko calculated the price right,” said the head of state. “They offered $15 billion for privatizing the company but I said $32 billion. Now they say that the price can be $36 billion once the market recovers. If someone is ready to buy 10, 15, 20% but not the controlling interest for this kind of money, we can sell the shares. But we will still haggle over the controlling interest,” said the President.
“You have to pay good money to the state. I will not pocket $5 billion out of a $15 billion sale nor will I share it with someone. It is unacceptable for us,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The President also answered about a dozens and half questions.
The head of state said that Belarus has to buy many natural resources, including oil and gas. At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko is satisfied with the delivery terms of Russian gas and oil.
“We have come to terms with Russia on natural gas. A year has gone by. The next year also looks good as far as natural gas is concerned,” said the head of state. He underlined: “In Ukraine the economy is now falling apart. Why? Because they get natural gas at about $450-480 per cubic meter. The price we pay at the border is $165. Do you see the difference?”
The President underlined that it had been achieved through complicated talks. The same is true for oil deliveries. “We get only 2 million tonnes of Belarusian oil. We cannot supply enough oil for ourselves. It is good that Russians have agreed that we can export our own oil and buy Russian oil at half the global price and without customs duties. It is also very good. But it had been very difficult to come to these terms,” remarked Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The students asked the head of state about his predictions regarding who will win the IIHF World Championship 2014 title.
Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that Russia will be the winner. “You thought I would tell Belarus? Unfortunately, there are no grounds for us to be happy here,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “I am afraid that we still cannot compete with the top teams of the world - the United States, Canada and Russia.”
“I do not demand any medals from them any more. I beg them: play for the people so that they can see that you fight and do your level best,” the President said.
“We should fight more as fights on the ice are a usual thing today. Yes, this is the ice hockey of today and we should adjust to it. We should fight and think first about the result rather than money. Unfortunately the youth still do not think this way,” the President said.
The head of state stressed that previously there was a lack of the facilities for training. Today all faculties are available but athletes cannot get prepared in a proper way.
“The whole world is going forward, developing rapidly. In Belarus, before taking a hockey stick, a ball, they demand a car, an apartment first. Therefore I had, you know, to take drastic decisions in the sports industry to give it new dynamism, to bring people who will take control of the situation there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. He also noted: “Today there are the facilities where athletes can train, but unfortunately there is still no sport I could count on. There was no normal system, there were other subjective factors. Therefore it was necessary to resolve the situation.”
The Belarusian leader also touched upon doping issues in sports. “I suggested introducing criminal responsibility for doping. Otherwise we are doomed in sports,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The students were also interested about foreign policy issues, in particular, the policy of sanctions which the West tries to impose against Belarus. “Why does the European Union try to impose sanctions against Belarus at the expense of its own citizens? It is a question you should probably ask the European Union. We indeed have a large trade turnover with the European Union. Our export to the European Union is even slightly larger than the export to the Russian Federation,” remarked the President. “Therefore, we cannot avoid cooperation with the European Union and their interests cross Belarus’ ones in many areas. Why do they complain? They don’t like our independence, they don’t like our way of doing things. They would love to see their appointees in power here. But it is not their business, it is ours”.
Aleksandr Lukashenko referred to the example of “democratic” elections in the USA. OSCE observers were not allowed monitoring the election. Besides, all the attention was focused on two main candidates – Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. “All the other ones were imprisoned for attempts to debate with these two ‘whales’. That’s the democracy for you,” said the head of state. “Here they come and get busy lecturing us. Don’t do it. We will hold elections our own way”.
According to the President, it is impossible to rig elections against the will of the nation. “I understand that it is impossible to rig an election if people univocally vote against you”. “I swear there was no corruption, bribes during the election. I’ve never done that and never will. I think it would degrade me and you. It will never happen,” stressed the Belarusian leader.
“Everything they say is meant to make things worse here economy-wise so that they could compete economically. The same applies to politics. There is a fight in progress and in this fight they rely not only on their forces in Germany, France, America but also on those, who are ready to support them here,” stated Aleksandr Lukashenko.
The President remarked that Mr Zenon Poznyak had recently confirmed the funding of the Belarusian opposition by the West. “They admit it themselves. They don’t need any country. They just need feeding,” stressed the Belarusian leader.“A horrible campaign has been launched against us,” said the head of state. “We pursue an independent policy. We are not going to dance to anyone’s tune, at least as long as I am the president. I have to make our country stronger, from the outside and from the inside. It is my key task”.