Meeting with Chairman of Board of OOO Tabak Invest Pavel Topuzidis

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Chairman of the Board of OOO Tabak Invest Pavel Topuzidis to discuss the implementation of the project to organize full-service retail merchandize retail trade in rural and small populated areas on 8 September.

The President pointed out the importance of the project to organize retail trade in rural areas. He remarked that sometimes the situation is unfair when prices for foodstuffs in rural shops are higher than in towns and cities.

“I do not mean that we need to replace Belcoopsoyuz trade, but we need competition to see a clear picture. Therefore, I asked you to build such a services network in one of the Belarusian regions. Back then you assured me that their prices would be lower than the exiting ones. It sounded very good,” the head of state said.

He remarked that if the project is a success in one of the regions, this experience can be replicated all over the country. “Of course, we should provide decent services to the population,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there are different rural populated areas in Belarus.

“There are agro-towns. They are with long-term prospects. (I do not think that someone will break this system). There should be a good retail center in every district capital which will serve as a distribution center for the entire district. There should be good retail shops in agro-towns. People should have an opportunity to buy everything they want there. They should have access to all products available in Minsk in their towns in villages,” the head of state said. “The third level is big villages which used to be kolkhoz and sovkhoz centers in the past. They will not disappear. Local shops should be put in order. As an option, we can build small shops there.”

According to the President, the fourth level is small villages with decreasing population. At the same time, he remarked that he is now doing his best to encourage businessmen to take part in the renovation of villages, especially those villages where they were born. “These are their native places. As I was informed, about a thousand of businessmen want to restore their family seats. If they do not help, villages will die. But people are still living there. So, mobile shops can a solution there,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The President is convinced that business can be increasingly vibrant in rural areas. This pertains to trade and other services. “But trade is the main thing. I want to discuss not only this block of issues, I want you to analyze everything and implement the project with no frills. As a representative of private business, you will not and should not waste money,” the head of state said. “I would like to know how to organize a network in one of the districts which will be used by your company and other trade operators as a model for building retail networks all over the country.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko also suggested discussing the preparation of a package of documents to liberalize doing business conditions and promote entrepreneurship in Belarus since Pavel Topuzidis has been involved in this work.

The businessman, in turn, remarked that the social responsibility of business is very important today. “Of course, people should restore their villages. We all came from rural places. I was born in a remote village in Georgia. You are absolutely right that villages should have access to all the products that are available in towns and cities. And we should not replace existing networks with new ones. Belcoopsoyuz has a well-developed retail network in villages,” Pavel Topuzidis said.

“It performs trade operations and buys superfluous products from the population. It has broad functions,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.

“They perform great social functions, because people in rural areas should have access to the entire spectrum of services,” Pavel Topuzidis agreed.