Meeting to discuss the agricultural sector of Vitebsk Oblast

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko expects that the meeting to discuss the agricultural sector of Vitebsk Oblast will have far-reaching consequences.

“This should be a great start. We should take a decision on the further development of Vitebsk Oblast that will lead to its prosperity. We cannot make mistakes. The time for experiments is over,” the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he asked to convene a large meeting. Taking part in it are high-ranking officials, government members, local executive officials, including heads of city and district executive committees, heads of integration associations, processing and agricultural companies and other organizations.

There is a need for a super-large holding company to address the issues in the agricultural industry of Vitebsk Oblast. “I have read the draft Decree. The main provisions provide for the radical restructuring of the entire management system of the agricultural industry in Vitebsk Oblast. The proposed super-large holding company will hold two-thirds of its territory,”the head of state noted.

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, there are several integrated agricultural structures in the form of holding companies in the region. They, however, have not produced expected results. “With negative experience across four out of the five holding companies, you still suggest setting up a super-large holding company. How do I understand this? I am the one to sign the Decree and be responsible for it. These are huge expenses,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The region expects great state support under the draft Decree. “But you tell me no support is needed. Today we must discuss all the issues in detail to make final decisions,” said the head of state.

The President said that modest positive dynamics can be seen as a certain indicator of the performance of the region’s agricultural industry. The results of the comprehensive analysis of the situation, however, show that there are serious problems. “The heads of other regions should not be complacent. We have the same situation in all eastern regions, both in Mogilev Oblast and Gomel Oblast. They will also have to take emergency measures. It is necessary to take both technological and organizational measures to cope with the problems that exist there,” said the head of state.

Over the past five years the agricultural output in Vitebsk Oblast reduced by almost 2%. “There is complete stagnation here. You are moving in the wrong direction,” the head of state said.  

The downward trend in cattle numbers has become persistent. Vitebsk Oblast shows average daily weight gains lower than any other region of the country. The region is the only one in the country with the average milk per cow under 4,000kg. The investment activity is low, export potential is falling and as a result, the financial condition of enterprises is deteriorating. The share of loss-making organizations is growing, and their share is highest among all regions in the country.

“It is absolutely unacceptable that people suffer from such work (if you can call it work): sloppiness, mismanagement, and we must be honest, ineptitude of people themselves. Ineptitude of our subordinates always starts with us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The decline in employment in the agricultural industry and low wages are no longer surprising. The Belarusian Statistics Committee informs that 37% of village's workers (Vitebsk Oblast) are paid less than Br500, and 40 organizations cannot provide their regular payment.

“I think that when they say Br500, some farms mean accrued salaries which they pay in parts, by Br100-150. And then you say you pay an average salary of Br500?” the President asked a rhetorical question.

“In the meantime, the leadership of the region has been taking unforgivably long (more than two years) to develop the road maps on how to correct the situation” the head of state stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko raised a number of fundamental questions for the participants of the meeting: the reasons why the agricultural sector of the region has found itself in such a state; whether all the root causes that led to the current situation have been eliminate; what the production and technological development strategy is for the holding company and how accurate it is. “If there is no return from the land: from farms, machine yards, grain facilities, then no holding company will save it,” the Belarusian leader said.

He also asked whether the financial flows in the proposed holding company have been calculated, whether they would allow it to function normally, how the management system would be structured, and whether the powers and areas of responsibility have been outlined.

“Do the proposed measures enable to finally solve the problems in Vitebsk Oblast, or is it another state assistance measure in disguise to turn a blind eye to the violations of technological and management discipline? If we do not eradicate this mismanagement, no integration structures will help you,” the President said.