Report on final version of draft Tax Code and 2019 budget law

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We should avoid wasteful spending and mismanagement in planning the 2019 budget, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he heard out a report on the final version of the draft Tax Code and the 2019 budget law of the Republic of Belarus.

“The reason for today’s small meeting is as follows: having considered the plans of our work and the draft budget for the next year I instructed you and your specialists to scrutinize the draft budget once again. I asked you to eradicate all loopholes in the draft budget. Wasteful spending of public resources in the coming year is inadmissible. And not only in the coming year. Frugality is the key,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

“As practice shows, the government, ministers and some other people depending on the budget often want to have certain reserves and extra money just in case. This is totally inadmissible. So you had to get rid of such loopholes, if there were any, within two weeks,” the president remarked.

He instructed the chairman of the State Control Committee to pay special attention to this issue in the budget in 2019. “No purchases of cars except for centralized purchases are allowed. We produce cars in Belarus. Please keep this in mind. Do not waste money on unnecessary trips and visits. Stop it,” the head of state said. “You don’t have to attend all conferences in other countries. There are Belarusian embassies in virtually all countries where such conferences take place. Our diplomats can attend them.”

According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it makes sense to take part in such events only if they bring financial benefits to the state or help build a positive image of the country.

“Focus on results. You understand what I mean. This applies to everybody. Therefore, I instructed you to revise the draft budget for 2019 and eradicate wastefulness,” the president added.

The head of state also instructed to deal with this issue as soon as possible, and then the parliament will make a decision on a corresponding draft law as part of its remit. “I know that the MPs have studied the draft budget and are waiting for the possible adjustments from the president. At the end of the meeting we will decide on adjustments. But it is essential to pass the budget today and then hand over the plan to the local level. Local administrative bodies in charge of budget planning should also look into it,” the Belarusian leader concluded.

According to the head of state, there has been a barrage of opinions after the parties failed to come to an agreement over the tax maneuver in Russia at the government level. Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the economic conditions for Belarus and also for the Eurasian Economic Union and the Union State would worsen in the wake of these possible changes.

“I am alarmed by the concerns of Belarusians. I would like to say openly that there are absolutely no reasons for concern. This is our problem, the problem of the government of the country, and we must handle it. Nothing will collapse even in a worst-case scenario. As for 2019, there is nothing to talk about. People should live and work as usual,” the Belarusian leader said. “If we do not come to an agreement, this tax maneuver will affect us gradually from 2019 to 2024. In 2019, if anything, we may lose about $400-500 million. This is actually a fair amount of money, but there will be no catastrophe for the country.”

“There will be no catastrophe in any case. We will just have to revise our domestic and foreign policy to a certain extent, especially in the financial sector,” Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The head of state noted once again that people should not be concerned about anything. “Belarus will be developing in the direction which we will determine here, in our sovereign and independent Belarus, no matter what. Therefore, we must carefully distribute huge money in our budget, i.e. billions of dollars and rubles, and spend it properly. We must provide support to those who need it,” the Belarusian leader said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko encouraged Belarusian people to work as usual, take care of their families and children especially in the run-up to New Year holidays.