Report of First Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Turchin
Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko urged the government to take decisions by consensus as he heard out a report by First Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Turchin on 25 October.
“When we reshuffled the Cabinet, we agreed that you would come to grips with the functions of the office of the government and its structure. I asked you to take care of this matter, as you had chaired the office of the government. You are the one to rectify the situation now taking into account possible mistakes and loose ends in the work of the government in the past. I would like to know your opinion on a number of issues,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The president recalled that the government is a collegial body. Decisions are taken collectively and this rule should be strictly observed. “Therefore I give so much attention to the way the government operates,” he emphasized.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he is getting some signals that the government focuses more on strategy rather than daily routine. “The government’s main mission is not about strategy. This is not your prerogative. The strategy has already been developed; it is determined by the president, proposed for voting during presidential elections and passed by the Belarusian People’s Congress. Some minor changes are possible; no one forbids the government to put forward some amendments. However, the decision is made by the president,” the head of state noted.
The Belarusian government has always been in charge of the real economic sector, the president emphasized. “Therefore, you have to monitor everything on-site – to inspect field works during planting and harvesting campaigns, tour production floors, deal with technology. We do not need the government that will sit in their offices and work on some strategy losing touch with reality,” the president said.
The development of the IT sphere and the introduction of digital technologies in the national economy and the country as a whole were discussed during the meeting. Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked: “We’ve heard all kinds of proposals. They were primarily put forward directly by IT industry professionals. They went nearly as far as to suggest setting up an independent government for digitizing the country. Setting up a digital economy ministry was suggested later on. We’ve already put a lot of efforts into developing the IT sphere. We’ve been accumulating experience since the Hi-Tech Park was established among other things.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the accumulated experience is sufficient for making the next steps to not only develop the Hi-Tech Park but switch the entire country to digital technologies. “It is certainly a fashionable trend but fashion is not what it is all about. Unfortunately, the future of our country lies outside the real sector of the economy and its development. Or maybe fortunately because as you know we have to import nearly all the raw materials for the real economy sector. But IT industry and its development, revenues from IT need brains, need human capital. We can get a lot of benefits for the development of the country and for the nation’s wellbeing in this regard. We will not abandon the real sector. Digital technologies will only make its operation more effective.”
The head of state wondered what else needed to be done in this area and how questions of Belarusian IT industry professionals should be answered. “They certainly did well. They saw that money can be earned that way. And people are needed for it. They are ready to invest their money in education, development, and so on. It is good because the preferences they have been granted are unprecedented,” said the head of state. “It is necessary to make investments little by little today in order to get more revenue, larger profits, and more effective performance tomorrow.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko stated: “We should not make mistakes and we should enable the most advantageous conditions for the development of the IT sphere.”
As a result of the meeting instructions were given to arrange a major government conference involving the head of state in Q1 2019 to discuss the development of digital economy in the country. It will be a major event not in terms of the number of participants, but in terms of the importance of the goals and tasks the country faces due to the forthcoming digitization of the economy.