Report on performance of banking system and measures to bolster foreign trade

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The economy is a top priority, thus any financial activity should serve the interests of the economy, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he was hearing a report on the performance of the banking system and measures to bolster foreign trade.

Among the participants of the meeting were Chairman of the Board of the National Bank Pavel Kallaur, First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Snopkov, Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Aleksandr Yegorov, Finance Minister Yuri Seliverstov, as well as Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Igor Nazaruk.

“Key figures in charge of Belarus’ economy and finance are in attendance. I think it would be a great idea to discuss the main problems, first of all, problems in banking and finance. I want to make one thing abundantly clear: the economy is a top priority. Any financial activity should serve the interests of the economy. Whatever it would cost us. This is the main thing. Otherwise, why would we need such a financial system,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

The head of state announced plans to toughen control over the work of the National Bank. It was one of the reasons for the recent personnel decisions.

“When I appointed [Aleksandr Yegorov] deputy head of the Belarus President Administration, I said that this person is well versed in finance and banking. And it will be easier for the Administration to discuss things with the National Bank and its specialists, because we will be on the same page. We studied at the same universities. We also want the State Control Committee to join in,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“As you understand, Pavel Vladimirovich [Chairman of the Board of the National Bank Pavel Kallaur], the National Bank cannot be outside the control. Control is exercised by the president, and you have probably already assumed that the appointment of new people in the financial and economic bloc means tougher control,” the president added.

Along with this, Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that this will not entail interference with the work of the National Bank. “It fulfills its tasks, by and large. Economic performance in the past year suggests that the economy is holding out pretty well in the difficult situation brought about by pressure from unfriendly Western states. This means that the government and the National Bank are accomplishing their tasks. Yet, this does not mean that we have no problems. We will discuss these problems openly, candidly, without resorting to the blame game,” the Belarusian leader noted.

The head of state mentioned the need to assist business entities in making settlements with foreign partners. “We seem to be dealing with sanctions well. Everything seems to be fine. But, as Russia has recognized it as well, we still feel the pressure from the United States in the first place. This pressure concerns business entities’ settlements. I have said many times to you and the government that we need to help economic entities, do what we can. We need to do it calmly, without any noise. I would like to know (this is a question for both the government and the President Administration) whether these functions are being performed. I also wonder if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Bank are involved in these matters,” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked.