Aleksandr Lukashenko’s working trip to Minsk Oblast

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On 3 May Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko paid a visit to the car-making company BelGee in Borisov and a new cutting-edge football stadium Borisov Arena.

The head of state started his working trip to Minsk Oblast from a test area in Borisov. The President was shown a lineup of cars made by the joint Belarusian-Chinese company BelGee.

Aleksandr Lukashenko decided to take new Geely cars for a test drive.

The head of state used a Geely SC7 sedan and a Geely LC Cross compact hatchback on a tour around the town of Borisov. After that he got behind the wheel of the new crossover Geely EX7 and took it for a spin in a special testing area that resembles off-road conditions as closely as possible. On the whole, the President was satisfied with the performance of the cars. Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that Geely SC7 is a rather fitting car for rookie drivers and spoke very highly about the other two models he had tested.

The President stressed the need to secure high quality of the cars of the Belarusian manufacture.

After the test drive the President instructed the government to come up with a system to encourage Geely car sales on the home market.

The issue was also talked over during the head of state’s visit to Borisov-based OAO Avtogidrousilitel which manufacturing premises are used for car assembling. Talking to the company’s staff, Aleksandr Lukashenko pledged that the government would develop a scheme to promote the purchasing power for Belarusian-made cars inside the country. “We will promote the sales of the cars together. The state will create necessary conditions and help encourage the population to buy these cars,” the President said adding that the support could be in the form of long-term loans. “We will think over how to support the Belarusian who buys a car here. At first the support will aim Belarusians. We will think about others as well because it does not matter who buys cars,” the head of state noted.

The Belarusian leader stressed that the producer himself should take efforts to secure high quality of the car at the reasonable price. He also should provide the relevant guarantees and quality maintenance service. At present Geely’s guarantee is three years and 100,000 operational kilometers. According to the President, these are decent conditions but there is definitely a room for improvement. In particular, the head of state assured that the issue of lowering the price for Geely cars would be additionally considered and a special control over the car quality would be set. “You cannot let me down. If we produce a car of poor quality and people start complaining, you will set me up,” the President noted. At the same time he stressed that judging on the organization of the assembling process and his personal test drive the Geely car is of good quality. Among other things the quality is secured by the main component parts, i.e. the engine and transmission, being of the Japanese and Austrian manufacture.

It is expected that about 50,000 cars will be annually sold in Belarus. Financial support from state will help secure this volume of sales. The President believes that a buyer had better purchase a new car of the Belarusian assembling than bring a second-hand car from abroad. The value for money is quite acceptable. The cost of the Geely car will vary from about $11,000 to $21,500. “Why should we bring garbage here from Europe. I mean second-hand cars. They are not cheap. And if you buy a second-hand car at let us say $5,000 then you will have to put another $5,000 in auto service and new component parts some two or three years later,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President also stressed the need to expand the BelGee dealer network in Belarus. Today there are seven dealers in the country (in every oblast and Minsk). According to the President, it is necessary to set up additional dealer centers in villages situated far away from the oblast centers.

This year there are plans to produce 18,000 Geely cars in Belarus, sell about 14,500 cars, with the biggest part (about 11,000) to Russia.

Car sales in Russia and in particular in the future Eurasian Economic Union were also discussed during the President’s communication with the BelGee staff.

The head of state underlined that if Belarus, Russia, and Kazakhstan set out to create a union, there should be no hindrances and everyone should operate in equal conditions. “It is the way I put the issue before my presidential colleagues,” said the President about the latest summit of the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia at the session of the Supreme Eurasian Economic Council in Minsk.

“In the last few days Minsk witnessed some rough talks about the future of our cars. Naturally our partners are concerned about the rather successful startup of SZAO BelGee particularly this year, in the first quarter,” stated the President. “The new enterprise has already achieved 10% profitability. It is not bad. Last year you had slightly more than 1%, now it is ten times as much”. The profitability has been achieved despite the falling automobile production rates on the Russian market. “But Geely has secured nearly a 50% increase on the Russian market and the Russians are certainly concerned. They may think that the Chinese will oust Russian automobiles from Belarus,” said the President.

This is why the head of state believes it is necessary to resolve all the issues with the partner states before the Eurasian Economic Union is created. “We are in negotiations primarily with Russia on ways to get these issued fixed. In the near future these issues will be fixed because we are supposed to sign the treaty on establishing the economic union in late May, this is why all the issues are to be fixed. Otherwise we will not be able to join the economic union to the detriment of our interests on unequal terms. Although I would like to stress it once again we are very much interested in it and have done a lot for the establishment of the economic union,” pointed out Aleksandr Lukashenko.

According to the head of state, it is quite natural that every country tries to protect its market but if a union is to be created, equal operation terms have to be stipulated from the very start.

After visiting the joint Belarusian-Chinese company producing Geely cars, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that this was the place where the Belarusian production of motor cars was rising. Belarus established the manufacture of trucks, agricultural vehicles and public transport long time ago. The country has finally launched the production of motor cars. “We have learnt to do everything: buses, trolleybuses, trams, but we have not got a motor car,” the President noted speaking about the national car production project.

The joint company BelGee has been steadily developing today. The company now uses manufacturing premises of Borisov-based OAO Avtogidrousilitel for SKD assembling. Last year the enterprise assembled about 2,500 cars. In H1 2014 the company produces more than 1,600 cars. In January-March 2014 the profitability of sales made up 8.9%. The enterprise netted Br16.5 billion.

“The next step is the construction of a more powerful plant near Borisov (between Zhodino and Borisov),” the President said assessing the prospects of car manufacturing in Belarus. It is expected that the construction of a new car-producing plant will be divided into two stages, with an estimated volume of investment reaching $500 million. The first stage envisages a construction of a plant with the annual capacity of 60,000 cars by 1 January 2017. By the time localization of components should reach 30% and make up 50% by July 2018. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the development of the national automobile manufacturing would give an additional impetus to the evolvement of many other industrial sectors.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also attended the opening ceremony of the new Borisov Arena.

According to the head of state, the annual opening of new sport facilities has become a good tradition in the country. The stadium opened in the run-up to a great day, the Victory Day.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that approaching the stadium he caught himself thinking that time runs fast: “It seems we have just laid down a capsule into the foundation of the stadium.” And some three years later the country’s state-of-the-art football stadium opens in Borisov. “Your team will have to wander around cities and villages no more,” the head of state said talking about FC BATE Borisov.

The President stressed that the stadium did not yield to similar facilities abroad and became a great present to football fans, the residents of Borisov and Minsk Oblast in general.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the facility meets the UEFA’s highest standards and is able to host any European competitions, including the Champions League and the Europa League. At the same time the stadium will serve other purposes as well. “Apart from its main function the stadium should fulfill its social purpose, since the health of the Belarusian people remains one of the priorities of our policy,” the head of state said.

In his words, every person will find an activity to his/her liking. The facility features a fitness club, a playroom for children, food courts and many more. Conditions were created at the arena to hold not only sport but also mass cultural and public events. The order was brought to the nearby parking zone which, according to the President, would become a favorite leisure area. “Borisov Arena will transform everyday life of Borisov residents and guests of Minsk Oblast,” the head of state is confident.

“The facility can be named a unique architectural work. I am convinced that the football stadium will become another calling card of Belarus recognized worldwide,” the Belarusian leader said. Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed gratitude to the designers, builders and specialists involved in the project.

“Nowadays sport — football, ice hockey, other kinds — is not about playing, taking part in a competition but waging a war and you have to fight to win. If there is a will to win, we will surely see world football stars here and will beat them,” said the President.

“However, for us to see world football stars here, our teams have to significantly improve their professional skills,” noted the head of state.

The head of state said he was very glad to visit a football stadium and see a football game after a large time interval. He noted he expected selfless and no-comprise game on par with Borisov Arena’s standards. “I would very much like the finalists not to disappoint us at least today,” said the President.

He also wished prosperity and health to all the sport lovers and wished excellent fitness, the lack of traumas and great victories to the sportsmen.

Aleksandr Lukashenko saw the infrastructure, functional and technical potential of the stadium, talked to the FC BATE Borisov coach and players.   

The construction of the new stadium in Borisov was launched on 12 November 2010. The stadium was designed by Slovenia’s Ofis arhitekti. Ljudski vrt Stadium in Maribor was taken as a model. Borisov Arena is a football stadium with a seating capacity of more than 13,000. The facility corresponds to the UEFA 4 Category Stadiums.

Borisov Arena was built as part of Belarus’ football development program for 2011-15. The socially important investment project was implemented with the help of the credit resources of the Development Bank of Belarus.