Session to discuss topical issues of Belarus’ economic development

    Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has urged the government to attain higher results of economic growth than it had been envisaged in the major documents regarding Belarus’ development in 2015. He gave an instruction at the government session held on 11 December to discuss topical issues of economic development.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that Belarus’ major monetary policy guidelines for 2015 and the most important parameters of the country’s social and economic development forecast were approved. “The growth forecast is modest. But I want to warn you that this is the lower level. We should not be focused on a 0.5% or 1% growth. If we have the slightest opportunity we must grab it and ensure a higher growth rate,” the President said.

    The head of state remarked that it is not important for him if the government follows the recommendations of Sergei Rumas or Piotr Prokopovich. “It is not important for me. We must see the growth,” he said.

    The President also asked about the situation with export. “In order to live well we need to sell our goods. What measures does the government need to take to reduce the backlog of inventory and raise the inflow of foreign currency to the country by the beginning of the year? However, in the current situation (the Russian prime minister said about it yesterday) the world, except for a couple of states, has not come out of the recession yet. Nevertheless, we cannot relax. What is the situation in this dimension?” the head of state asked.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko touched upon the conflict situation around restrictions on Belarusian food supplies to Russia.

    “You may have noticed that Russian mass media are once again starting to reproach us, particularly me, that Lukashenko is raising the problem to the very top. I should say that these tame political analysts and reporters — I cannot expect anything good from those at all — didn’t hear Lukashenko well when I reproached my government exactly for raising the problem to the highest level,” the head of state said.

    “I would like to underline that we absolutely shouldn’t move any problems in mutual relations to any levels, particularly relations with the Russian Federation. It is not profitable for us. We don’t need it. And the key thing is that we were not the cause of the conflict,” the President noted. “Working from the bottom, we have held negotiations with all kinds of government functionaries to reach top levels of the Russian government,” he added.

    “Therefore, Belarusians cannot be blamed for the scandal if one can call it that. But it is not the first time,” the President said.

    “I would advise smart Russian political analysts and reporters to look for the cause not in Belarus but somewhere over there, in Moscow. But it is their problem,” the President said.

    Addressing the government, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted he would like to hear how his instruction to resolve the situation was being fulfilled and whether the restrictions set by the Russian side were justified. “It is necessary to sell more and buy less in order to have more money and gold and foreign exchange reserves. It is a simple formula but for us it is a very important one,” said the head of state. He noted he would like to hear about the state of affairs on the Russian market in view of the Russian ruble devaluation. Apart from that, the President asked about details of the session of the Council of the Eurasian Economic Commission that had taken place the day before, the decisions made by the Council and their implementation.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also touched upon Armenia’s ratification of the agreement on joining the Eurasian Economic Union. The Belarusian head of state said that two days before he had had a phone talk the Armenian President. The Armenian head of state said that they had ratified the agreement and asked about the state of affairs in Belarus and about the future actions of Belarus. “I sincerely told Serzh Azatovich that we did not see any problems in it,” the Belarusian leader noted. He asked to inform the participants of the session about the issue.

    The state will support exporters working with the Russian Federation due to the temporary situation in Russia.

    The National Bank and the Belarus President Administration gave an evaluation of the current situation on external markets.

    According to Kirill Rudy, special attention was drawn to the Russian market where the situation is the following: the Russian ruble exchange rate is rapidly changing and the prices go behind it. Of course, it has an influence on Belarusian exporters. Kirill Rudy said that Russia accounts for 40% of Belarus’ export. “In fact, the government says that the situation is manageable. Moreover, in January-October 2014 accounts receivable and backlog of inventory reduced by about $ billion,” he said.

    “This situation on the Russian market is temporary. It is expected that in the near future Russia will witness an inflation splash which will allow compensating certain difficulties for exporters,” Kirill Rudy said.

    At the end of the session the head of state gave a number of instructions in connection with the current situation. In particular, the President demanded to step up efforts to diversify export. The corresponding instructions were given to the government, the Foreign Ministry, embassies, and their trade and economic agencies. According to Kirill Rudy, business begins to make certain steps in this direction. For example, in January-September 2014 the Belarus’ export to third countries (not Russia) exceeds the level of the previous year. “The government’s role is to provide timely assistance to promote this tendency and to redirect trade flows to other countries,” the official said.

    Aleksandr Lukashenko also gave an instruction to reduce prime cost at state-run enterprises.