Meeting to discuss prospects of Hi-Tech Park development
Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko received a report on the prospects of the Hi-Tech Park development.
“Everything will calm down. Business is business. Business will always find its place in the world. That is why let us discuss the current problems and possible responses, so that our society understands how we will continue to work with the Hi-Tech Park and use it for the benefit of the country, first of all. It is about time we did it. We have gained certain experience. Good experience. We have to turn this park around so that it primarily works for the country and works effectively,” the Belarusian leader stressed.
The head of state praised the park's performance in the current situation. “I did not expect it. In the three quarters of this year, January to September, the park's export reached $2 billion. I did not expect that. It is a little bit less than last year. But still, it is a high level. It has been reached within three quarters. A year consists of four quarters. Let us see how you work in the fourth quarter,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
He also called it a good fact that those who left the country started coming back after the sanctions were imposed. “A lot of people have come back. They have tried their best in foreign countries and realized that there was no place like home. These are good trends. New residents are coming, developing their own IT-products, developing new markets,” the head of state said.
At the beginning of the meeting Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that it was time they returned to the issue of the Hi-Tech Park operation, not even from the economic point of view, but from the moral and political one. In this regard, the head of state mentioned the events of 2020.
“The Hi-Tech Park workers showed themselves at their worst then. Of course, there is a certain wariness in the society in this regard. That is what I mean. The time has come to get rid of unnecessary things regarding the functioning of the Hi-Tech Park. I have to say that not everything was the fault of the Hi-Tech Park employees themselves, or of those who were involved in high technology. This was partly our fault. More likely, it was an inevitable phase for us to go through when the Hi-Tech Park companies were mostly subsidiaries. Their owners were far away from Belarus,” the President said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that prior to the attempted unrest in 2020, there were reports on the plans to use Hi-Tech Park employees as a driving force. However, no due attention was paid to this issue: “I confess that neither I nor the special services paid due attention to it. We just ignored it. I thought then that it was impossible for your people to start a war against you. We paid the price for it. It turned out that people can act so if they are well paid. So, our people, it must be admitted frankly, working in the Hi-Tech Park, receiving a decent income, a much higher salary as compared to the average salary in Belarus, preferred big money and carried out the commands of their overseas masters, mostly those over the ocean.”
“We analyzed the situation from these positions and came to this conclusion. We must admit, however, that they were managed. Since they were mostly young people, and the Hi-Tech Park leadership worked there half-heartedly - they did not know their people and did not counteract all the negative trends in time - we got what we got,” the Belarusian leader added.
At the same time, the President stressed that it would be wrong to stop the operation of the Hi-Tech Park and refuse to support it. In recent years this industry has developed considerably in Belarus, and not only within the framework of the park. “Thanks to the park's efforts, every Belarusian enterprise has its own high-tech park today. Starting from the Academy of Sciences and ending with MAZ, BelAZ and other companies. At first, I did not believe that at each own enterprise we have highly qualified IT specialists who do not just work for an overseas uncle, but create the final product. We have checked, for example, BelAZ and saw that there was a whole four- or five-storey building where people worked for BelAZ, developing the software and the finished product,” said the head of state.
The Belarusian leader believes that the Hi-Tech Park has played a very important role in this regard. Moreover, thanks to the park, education in the country has also got a boost. “I have already become a little bit worried that we have probably made an excessive focus on the IT sector and IT training. I think however it is not a problem. This issue can be handled. If there is no demand, there will be no training. While we have demand, young people will be training. Young people want to work as IT specialists,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
"So whichever way you look at it, the Hi-Tech Park remains a feature of our independence, our young state. The park should exist. I would like to hear objective information on how it should work, and what situation is there,” the President said.
He added that the decree “On the state body in digital development and informatization issues” was signed in April 2022. The Hi-Tech Park was instructed to create a database of residents' competencies and determine the order of their involvement in the processes of digitalization of the sectors of the economy. “We need to discuss the results of this work. We have a supervisory board at the Hi-Tech Park. How does it work? Is the situation in the Hi-Tech Park under control? What are we going to do next?” the Belarusian leader outlined the major questions.
“You understand that as a person responsible for the security of our state and stability of our society, I cannot allow another wave of unrest from IT workers, sole traders and so on. I would like to stress once again, and I am not hiding this: such sectors have emerged in our economy and in our society thanks to the President. That is why I am responsible for this. We cannot see only positive things. We must also see the flaws in order to ensure a timely response,” the head of state said.