Session to discuss measures to raise effectiveness of social and economic complex

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Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the government to finalize a package of draft legal acts envisaging concrete steps for addressing economic issues and to submit these draft documents to him within a week. The made the statement at the session held on 16 February to discuss measures meant to improve the effectiveness of the social and economic complex.

“Do not forget that you will start working with the adopted legal acts in the near future and that they must bring tangible results,” the head of state remarked.

That is why the session is attended by a big number of government officials who will fulfill the decisions that will be passed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko warned that this is the last session in this format. Then the government will have to act.

The President stressed that the government had insisted on scrutinizing the near-future plan of action at the level of the head of state. “If you have a plan of action, let’s consider it together. I would like to know if it helps ensure the sustainable development of the country and the balance of interests of the society and the state,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that he had recently given instructions to work out measures to improve the effectiveness of the national economy and to overcome the negative trends caused by external and internal factors. After that the government submitted for consideration of the head of state a package of draft legal acts that stipulate concrete steps meant to resolve existing problems. The President remarked it is now time to thoroughly discuss and objectively evaluate these steps.

“I would like to underscore once again that any talks about some crisis are unacceptable!” the President warned. “The conditions have changed. In some areas they have changed essentially. So what? It is not the first time it has happened. We know how to work in these conditions and how to respond to them.”

“Moreover, our situation is different. Particularly after the relevant decisions made by the European Union yesterday,” he added.

The President pointed out that the documents submitted for his consideration touch upon vital spheres of the economy and the nation’s life.

“I have repeatedly stated that we should follow the policy we promised to the nation during the election campaign,” the Belarusian head of state said.

“People are the top priority. This is why the decisions we are going to make as a result of this discussion should not negatively affect the social sphere,” warned the head of state.

The President noted that export and rational import substitution are the main objectives. “In other words, it is not normal when the domestic market is overfilled with imports which we can produce in the country,” the head of state said.

“It is essential to raise the quality of goods and services, reduce their prime cost, curb inflations, keep the budget balance,” the President told those present at the session.

“Why can’t we reduce prime cost by 25% Just look: we are lagging behind Europe ten times despite we have better prices for raw materials and energy sources,” the head of state said.

The President also demanded to look for additional reserves for economic growth and the efficient use of these reserves. “There are lots of them! There are huge untapped reserves! It is needed to deploy these reserves at the regional and local levels,” the head of state emphasized.

“A number of government officials have turned out to be unprepared for managerial work in modern conditions. This is why we are not getting proper results,” believes the head of state.

“It seems that many are now afraid of making self-directed decisions. However, I don’t believe it. Nobody prevents anyone from making decisions. Idle talk again! Who prevents a director from deciding in favor of making more quality products? Nobody! Who prevents the same director from selling these quality products at the best price? Nobody! But if the same director sells these products without getting money in return, he or she will be made answerable! It is my strict requirement. Did you expect anything else?” said the President.

“There is nothing to fear. If someone is afraid, he or she is a typical fraudster, who doesn’t make the decision because apparently there are no gains. Or the person doesn’t have the guts for it and is unfit for managerial jobs. This is why let’s stop talking about anyone being afraid of making decisions. Go ahead and make them! If you make honest mistakes without lining your pockets, you will be forgiven. You will not be punished for honest mistakes,” noted the head of state.

At the same time Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out the widespread practice of arranging various conferences and coordination sessions. In his opinion, such actions are designed to shift the responsibility and diffuse the authority. “It has to stop!” the President said while addressing Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov.

The President said he wanted clear division of functions and higher responsibility at all levels.

“The ministers and directors of enterprises are totally passive! They must be thinking someone else will resolve their problems. Not a chance! There will be no other instructions and no different conditions!” said the head of state.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was also strongly dissatisfied with municipal government agencies, particularly with heads of district administrations for poor efforts in the social and economic development of their regions and “absolute lack of control and lack of any engagement on the part of heads of city and district administrations”.

“It seems to me as the president that this link in the command structure is not responsible for anything really! We’ve also agreed with the prime minister that this link, which contacts people directly, which works with enterprises directly, should be loaded with work. They should be assigned specific performance targets,” said the head of state.

In this context, Aleksandr Lukashenko said he is in favor of comprehensively optimizing the state apparatus as soon as possible. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, these moves should not do harm to anyone. Civil servants should have good salaries and be responsible for their decisions. “Then the system will be efficient,” the head of state is convinced.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the main objective is not just to reduce the number of civil servants. It is essential optimize their functions and authorities, which is a broader task. “It is not enough to reduce the personnel number. Comprehensive approaches are needed here,” he stressed.

The President also touched upon the development of small and medium-sized businesses. According to the head of state, first of all, it is important to implement lucrative projects.

Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on the recent decision of the European Union to abolish the majority of sanctions in relation to the Belarusian side.

”The Minister of Foreign Affairs need to thank his colleagues for making this decision. It is a very good move, the European Union realized that it is time to abandon this bloc thinking and stop the confrontation with Belarus. They have made the decision that absolutely satisfies us,” the head of state said.

In this context, Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the government to step up work with various banking organizations of the EU and potential investors. “We are open for it,” the President of Belarus emphasized.

Belarus is open to cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). “We should work with them. They suggest reasonable solutions. But we should not grovel before them,” the Belarus President said.

“The interests of people are the priority. We should not bow and scrape to anyone. If the IMF wants to cooperate with us, we are open to it, but they should listen to us. If they do not what to, we will wait,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko asked Chairman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) Pavel Kallaur to report how much the financial stabilization proposals worked out by the central bank take into account needs of the real sector of the economy, what prospects of cooperation with the IMF and with the Russian Federation, “which has always supported us and supports” there are.

“Russians via their prime minister and the president, whom I met twice within one week, said directly that they had no way out but to support Belarus because Russian interests are over here, because they depend on Belarus in a lot of things,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Think, for example, about the latest events when heavy trucks were blocked at the border and in Ukraine as well as other countries,” he added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that serious negotiations had been held with Russia’s top leaders. The presidents of the two countries talked over the phone first. After that negotiations between the prime ministers of Belarus and Russia took place in Saint Petersburg. After that Aleksandr Lukashenko met with Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin.

“The situation is complicated but not deadly. They agree that the situation is not deadly in Belarus or Russia. Yet they see some gaps in financing and so on. They said they would help with refinancing and with borrowing from the Eurasian Development Bank,” noted the Belarusian leader.

“It is a positive normal trend. We should join hands and get out of the complicated situation together. And we will get out of it. Times were harder in the past,” summed up the Belarusian head of state.

“I reiterate that at the end of Q1 we will analyze our efforts to solve these tasks. We will revise these issues once again at the end of H1,” the President said.

“You must move forward without any delays! If you do not know what to do, talk to people, visit enterprises. Even if you do not solve the issue, there will be less tension. People will tell you what to do. If you embark on this, leave your offices and become closer to people, it will be easier for you to work, you will find solutions to those complicated issues,” the head of state believes.