Session to discuss economic issues

    Belarus will be committed to maintaining stability on the currency market, President of the Republic of Belarus Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the session to discuss economic issues on 18 December.

    The head of state reminded that he had already given specific instructions to top executives at a recent session to discuss topical economic issues. “To monitor the implementation of these instructions I suggest providing regular updates on progress being made. In fact, this is what we are already doing. A week has passed after that session and I want to hear how my instructions are being fulfilled, what has been made and what problems persist,” the President noted.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that the scope of issues is pretty big, but the current session will focus on five major areas of work. One of them is the situation in the real economic sector and efforts to prevent ungrounded price rises for goods and services on the domestic market. “The commodities you export can be sold at the highest price possible. However, prices on the domestic market are already high enough. Our people no longer take products out of the country (which is quite an indicator), but go to Russia and Ukraine to purchase goods, including Belarusian goods, and bring them back to Belarus. The government undertook the obligation to deal with the situation. I would like to hear how the issue is being addressed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

    Top on the agenda of the session is lifting the temporary restrictions on the supplies of Belarusian foodstuffs to Russia and their transit.

    “It is difficult to explain the fluctuations on the Russian currency market,” the President said. He noted that it is inadmissible to devalue the national currency against this background. “We have obligations to our people. We must fulfill them and we are fulfilling them, according to the reports of the government and the National Bank,” the head of state noted.

    He stressed that the stability on the currency market is the obligation of the banking system led by the National Bank and the Belarusian government. The other things are in the hands of the population. “If you want devaluation, go to exchange offices. Everything depends on Belarusian people. It is inadmissible to blame the top-ranking officials, the government, the National Bank,” the President said.

    He added: “We will maintain the stable situation in the country and will use all tools without violating any objective financial and economic laws.”

    Other important objective is the expansion and diversification of export. “I would like to hear, first of all, what is being done by our Foreign Ministry. Attending the meeting are the Vice Premiers and governors; thus, I would like to know what they are doing, too. The most important thing is the economic situation,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

    In his words, domestic companies are doing fine. “They can manufacture decent products at reasonable prices. The question is how to sell these products abroad. The more we sell, the more foreign currency we will have. In this case, all the talks about the currency crisis in Russia and the collapse will make no sense. Everything depends on us,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “The export is the number one priority,” the head of state emphasized. He asked how things are on this front.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko urged the government to use U.S. dollars or euros in Belarus-Russia trade. “I’ve been hearing a lot of complaints recently about the fall of the Russian ruble since Russia accounts for 40% of our export and we are losing money,” noted the head of state. “But hey, this is the kind of partner we have today and this is the kind of situation we see in Russia and Ukraine, which is our partner, too. But there is always a way out. If we lose something somewhere, then we have to gain something in another place.”

    For instance, prime costs can be reduced. “We now live large, getting fat and thinking that things will continue the way they are now. No, it is necessary to work hard. Every day the government informs me about food trade. There are no problems with consumers in Russia as far as payments in rubles are concerned. If the ruble drops to RUB70 per U.S. dollar, then we adjust the price accordingly. We take payments in advance. It is good. It is the way it should be done. There is no other way around it.”

    Moreover, the government has been instructed to use U.S. dollars instead of Russian rubles in trade. “Because we pay with U.S. dollars instead of rubles for electricity. By the way, it is a defect in the work of the Russian government. We should have told them to pay us in hard currency — U.S. dollars or euros — a long time ago. The government tells me that there is progress. Those, who buy our products in Russia, pay with U.S. dollars. If they pay in Russian rubles, then they do so in accordance with the exchange rate on that day and at that hour,” the President stressed.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that he would like to hear precise and clear explanations about all these matters at the government conference. “There is no point in complaining about the situation. We have agreed that in any situation we should live and work, there is no other way of doing it,” stressed the head of state.