Government conference on topical aspects of national development

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Future stable development will be secured in Belarus on the basis of the current accomplishments. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement at the government conference held on 20 October to discuss topical aspects of the country’s development.

The head of state clearly outlined parameters and criteria of future social and economic development. Speaking about the purpose of the conference, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed:“I will try to lay it down honestly and sincerely. Every head of a government branch and every top civil servant — those who want to work in the new five-year term — will have to prove their ability to govern upon their appointment.”

The head of state remarked that the new five-year term begins on 1 January and will have to implement new practices. This is why the government faces special requirements.“It is particularly true for the central government, the presidential administration, the Security Council, and power-wielding agencies. I’ve already mentioned branches of power. It will be impossible to follow the old ways. Not only because times have changed. Primarily because I will demand it of you,” stressed the President.

Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned that close attention will be paid to oblast governors along with members of the central government. “Because economy is the key matter, on which the country’s sovereignty and security depend. And the central government, oblast governors, and their subordinate government agencies take care of economy in Belarus. This is why you — everyone, including those not appointed by the president — will have to present specific plans of your actions. Top civil servants will have to do it before they are appointed. All the other ones will have to do it over a specific period as I see fit,” said the head of state.

Addressing members of the government, the head of state underlined that heavy and concrete work was ahead of them. “You will not be able to hide behind someone’s back. If someone is not ready for the challenge, you’d better stay out of government work,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The President also noted that many speculations were circling about the future composition of the government. “The government for the next five-year term and all the government agencies were mainly formed before the presidential election. I’ve talked about it. It is the second presidential election that went like that. People need to know who will work after an election if this specific president is elected. I’ve said that those, who demonstrate their inability, will have to quit government work. This is why I have to make up my mind about who is going to stay and who is going to leave. Every one of you has to prove your ability. I don’t want people to see the process as mass layoffs in the civil service sector any time soon. I warn against using personal allegiance as the deciding criterion. It is again a matter of purity of our government,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.

The head of state warned civil servants against arrogantly treating Belarusians. “People complain about arrogant bureaucrats. We have forgotten how to talk to people,” the President was displeased. Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined that the style of work on the part of civil servants was absolutely unacceptable since interests and problems of the people must be the overriding concern for all government agencies.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the amount of public expectations that the governmenthas to satisfy has reached a critical level. He stressed that he does not want to use populism and believes it should be completely eliminated from the political scene. The nation is looking forward to changes for the better. “I would describe the defining feature of the recent presidential election as follows: we have supported you and will continue to do so, but we want changes for the better,” saidAleksandr Lukashenko.In his words, the main thing is to raise the livingstandards. Those who voted for the president hope their living standards will improve. “I am not telling you how to achieve this. You all should give people jobs and demand high labor productivity from them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The government should also pay scrupulous attention to pricing matters. “People are dissatisfied with the pricing system and they are right,” said the President. “Let’s look at the root of the pricing problem. Who reaps most benefits by raising prices? Themanufacturer? Unlikely. Those, who make merchandise, get minuscule profits. Those, who handle this merchandise down the road, get a huge amount of money they have not earned,” said the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also encouraged the government to pay close attention to merchandise export. The President noted: “Increasing the output and consequently merchandise export is a very important matter. In this time of crisis I want you to tell me, one by one if you wish, where virtually every tractor, every automobile, kilogram of meat and milk will be exported and who will be responsible for it. The effort will be monitored quarterly and monthly for some positions.”The President said he believes that the answer to the problems is simple: “We just have to make as much merchandise as possible and sell it at top prices. Money has to return into the country.”

Speaking about economic reforms, the President stressed that reforms will improve the existing order of things in Belarus instead of breaking it. “We are going to implement reforms by improving what we have,” stressed the head of state. Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that there is and there will be no money available for breaking down something completely and then rebuilding it heroically.“It doesn’t mean we will stay as we are. A system can live and survive only if it is always in motion and is improved all the time.” The Belarus President added: “We have enough strength and means to go on and improve ourselves. It is the essence of our reforms.”

The President also spoke against proposals to reduce the number of personnel employed by major enterprises. In his words, such matters should be approached very carefully after thorough consideration. “Nobody has the right to kick out into the street the people, who want to work. You will face criminal prosecution for that,” warned the head of state.

Speaking about proposals to raise the retirement age, Aleksandr Lukashenko said the matter will be handled only taking into account the opinion of the general public. According to the President, proposals have been voiced to decide on the matter now. Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes Belarusians should make up their minds on their own and decide whether such changes are in order any time soon. He reminded that he spoke about the inevitable increase in the retirement age before the election. “We have to raise it but people are against it. This is why pensions are small in Belarus and we have the pension fund that we have,” stressed the President. In his opinion, the matter of raising the retirement age should be handled through people. “We should talk to them, convince them, ask for their agreement,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “We will ask them to support us. If they agree to it, we will go ahead with the changes. If they don’t, then we won’t.”

“We declare everywhere that Belarus is a state for the people. Let’s listen to people then,” concluded the head of state.

The Belarus President also stated that the implementation of decisions remains number one priority since no measures can be implemented without it.
Aleksandr Lukashenko urged the government to optimize the number of personnel employed in their agencies and use this optimization to raise salaries. “We should not have the level of salaries that exists now by the end of the next year. It is the key goal of our work,” stressed the head of state.

The Belarus President spoke against excessive bureaucracy and red-tape practices. “The practice of inventing new papers and forms must be rooted out,” the head of state was convinced. “I don’t want to hear reports that some superiors demand excessive information or invite personnel to conferences, which are sometimes useless. Blame yourself for fast retirement then.” Addressing members of the government, Aleksandr Lukashenko warned: “Let people do their jobs. It applies to everyone — the economy, government agencies, law enforcement agencies and the army. No excessive phone calls, requests for information, and excessive conferences. I’ve made the relevant decisions and would like you to follow them. Conferences must be held only during off-hours. You are better off making decisions at enterprises.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “A new page in the development of our country is opening up. We have to open the page together in an honest, principled, and responsible manner. Great trials are ahead of us. In addition to further development we have to preserve this sovereign independent country that we have created together.”Aleksandr Lukashenko said he believes there is no time for taking it slowly. All the strength and energy must be channeled into addressing the most topical and vital issues.

This is why the key government officials presented their reports during the government conference on 20 October. The state and prospects of the country’s social and economic development were in focus. The government presented its vision of the country’s future development.According to the head of state, the conversation that has started will be continued. In particular, security matters will be discussed at the presidential level. Apart from that, the President will talk to the heads of other branches of power.