Meeting with Labor and Social Protection Minister Marianna Shchetkina

    On 5 May President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Labor and Social Protection Minister Marianna Shchetkina to receive her report.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke about the performance of Belarusian manufacturing companies.

    “This is mostly a problem for the industry minister. But I would like to warn you to keep an eye on the matter and control it. I am not going to mention the reasons, we’ve talked about it more than once, but the situation is rather tense at some of our rather large enterprises,” noted the head of state. “We cannot afford losing them. It is not an option.”

    “It doesn’t mean, however, that we will pick up their slack. They should pull their weight if they want to survive and stay on the market. But the state cannot afford losing them,” said the President.

    According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it is necessary to adopt a set of measures. “But keeping the people employed is the key measure and you should be the one to take care of it. Crises come and go, we have seen more than a fair share of them, but when an enterprise recovers from a crisis and there is a demand for the merchandise it makes, the lack of workforce is a catastrophe. Therefore, any means and solutions should be utilized to preserve labor collectives. Everything must be done to keep people working. And not for the sake of increasing stock in storage,” stressed the President.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned he wanted to visit a number of enterprises in Minsk and the regions soon.

    “The industry minister has been clearly told to preserve labor collectives. If this work is slow for now, then we should recover during summer, by September when the vacations are over, you understand perfectly well how people will feel then. They will need jobs, will need salaries, they will need to get their kids ready for school, will need to feed their families. It is very important,” said the head of state. “Therefore, preserving labor collectives is a number one priority. In order to achieve that, people have to keep working.”

    The President stressed that the instructions do not apply to good-for-nothing workers and alcohol abusers. “If they fail to understand the situation and mend their ways, there is no need to keep them employed. But then again I have warned the executives and the minister that I forbid putting innocent people into this category! Every enterprise executive and the government will be made answerable for it,” said the head of state.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed Marianna Shchetkina to closely oversee all the matters concerning employment. He went on saying that a government conference would be held soon to discuss the preservation of labor collectives with heads of enterprises and members of the government.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that at the end of last year-early this year “the foreign exchange market and prices were stabilized ". At the same time, prices for goods and services continue rising. According to the President, there are objective reasons, in particular, the strengthening of the US dollar against the Belarusian ruble.

    "The government raises prices across the positions it controls especially for housing and utilities. This is unacceptable. Because we cannot raise wages today. A person does not need a wage increase if prices do not climb higher,” the head of state noted.

    "We need to halt price growth where we can. We must make it clear to all: businessmen, managers of state-owned enterprises and all others need to keep a lid on prices,” the President said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that salaries will be increased as soon as possible. He also stressed that he is against raising salaries in the run-up to the presidential election.

    “Civil servants should understand that,” the head of state added. In his words, there are attempts to raise coefficients and additional payments for some employees. “It is inadmissible! I will treat such practices as provocations against the president and the ruling authority. Such practices must be eradicated. We must have the same attitude to everyone,” the head of state stressed.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko did not back the proposal to raise salaries of civil servants. He emphasized that everything should depend on the performance of the economy and the manufacturing sector.