Meeting to discuss development of Grodno Oblast

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Grodno Oblast is showing stable development, making better progress than others in some areas, but still the region has some shortcomings, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he hosted a meeting in Grodno to discuss the development of Grodno Oblast on 24 April.

The head of state stressed the need to discuss a number of the most important issues in the development of the region. “The holidays are over. Apart from the holidays, we have everyday life as usual,” he remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko arrived at the meeting well-prepared. Before the meeting he made a trip in his helicopter over Grodno Oblast and Brest Oblast to see how the regions were doing.

“The region is developing well. In some areas it is doing better than others. In many areas it sets the pace of development in our country. The success of farmers pleases most of all. You have been among the country’s leaders over the past few years. However, as [the State Control Committee] reports to me, you still have some shortcomings,” the president said.

Speaking about shortcomings, Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to the region’s livestock industry. The head of state’s instructions to provide dairy complexes with everything necessary to operate at full capacity has not been fulfilled yet. “I have a question: why did we build them? If Grodno Oblast cannot do it, then what oblast will we rely on?” the president asked.

Half of the built and reconstructed complexes do not provide even the average level of livestock productivity. Ostrovets District was set as an example.

There are issues with herd reproduction. This is a typical picture for Lida, Mosty, and Ivye districts. “They also showed a decrease in gross milk production in 2022,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

Inspections revealed violations of technological regulations of keeping and feeding livestock in 80% of inspected farms. “Surprisingly for the governor with a decree in medicine, there are violations of veterinary and sanitary regulations,” the head of state said. “As a result, cattle mortality remains high. This is unacceptable. In 2022 cattle mortality reached 15,000 head. Cattle mortality was registered in almost every district of the region (16 of 17).

There are also issues with pork and poultry production. “Today the demand for agricultural products is huge, and the market is open,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

The president stressed the need to address the situation at Skidel poultry factory and Smorgon Bakery.

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik about the instruction regarding the stabilization funds (agricultural products in government storage between seasons) and provision of the population with domestic fruits and vegetables.

“The governor and I have repeatedly discussed the situation with the stabilization funds. By the way, it all started with your oblast, when I demanded to set up these stabilization funds and provide trading outlets with these products. You assured me that everything was fine. And in fact, inspectors have found problems here as well. I would like to know what they are. Especially with regard to potatoes, cabbage, and beets. At the same time, your retail chains are full of Egyptian potatoes and Russian apples, the price of which is several times higher,” the head of state said.

Another topic was the performance of the region's industrial sector. “You significantly underperformed in the woodworking, textile industry, petrochemicals and a number of other industries last year. In general, it is unacceptable for Grodno Oblast. You performed in Q1 2023 at last year's level, which means you have not yet compensated for the losses. You need to recover faster. The main thing now is to accelerate,” the Belarusian leader said.

In his words, it is not right to focus only on Grodno Azot and the nuclear power plant. “I have repeatedly mentioned the need to implement at least one big investment project in each area. When the governor was appointed he got a task to take the implementation of one large-scale project, significant for the region, under personal control. It should not be done on the basis of a public enterprise. How are things here, in the region? In particular, how is the situation at Grodno Azot? How is Grodno Oblast doing in these sanctions conditions? What has been done in terms of import substitution, in industrial cooperation with our eastern partners? Has the logistics of the delivery of components and goods been arranged everywhere?” the head of state asked.

Issues related to the maintenance of local roads remain pressing. “Although the governor reported that a lot had been done. How good are roads leading to agro-towns from the district center? How good are these roads? I have recently saw some of the roads from the agro-towns to the district center. Well, they knew that I would be there and put these roads in order. But in general, the situation is not good. It bothers people,” the head of state said.

The president instructed to rectify the situation as soon as possible. The task set concerns not only Grodno Oblast, but the country in general. “Grodno Oblast is doing relatively well. The situation across the country is complicated though. The deputy prime minister has recently been tasked to repair all roads within the year, whatever it might cost us. Believe me, tomorrow it will cost more. Oil, petroleum products, bitumen for asphalt is cheaper today,” the head of state said.