Visit to Minsk Automobile Plant

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Investments for the development of Belarusian mechanical engineering companies will be provided only if concrete target markets are available. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he visited OAO Minsk Automobile Plant (MAZ trademark), the managing company of the holding company BelavtoMAZ, on 7 April.

The head of state was informed about the company’s financial performance and development prospects. The President noted that when he visited MAZ, suggestions were made in favor of holding a government conference to discuss the strategy for developing the Belarusian mechanical engineering industry as a whole. The distribution of credit resources granted by China to Belarus was supposed to be discussed during the government conference among other things.

Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that such a conference will take place later and in a different format. He made it clear that enterprises will be able to get financial resources, particularly borrowed ones, only if they carefully calculate the potential target markets for selling new products. “You will get money, possibly Chinese loans, only when you prove that you have the markets to sell your products to. Otherwise, we will not give you a single cent,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “I cannot once again invest hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars in your promises of making some products and stocking them in warehouses or, worse, just eating away the money.”

“This is why you must clearly understand that if you take money and promise some product, you will have to prove that you will be able to sell that product,” added the Belarusian leader.

Speaking about the penetration of new target markets, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he had been pressing for it for some time now. “I want you to do exactly that. I am sick and tired of hearing about Russia as a target market. We’ve been an independent nation for 25 years now. Russia has its own share of problems,” noted the President. “Yes, it is a market that you have yielded. It is very easy to win back the market today. But you have to sell quality, beautiful, and reliable vehicles at competitive prices on this market.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke against using dubious schemes and mediators as part of overseas sales. Sometimes such schemes result in problems with getting money for delivered vehicles. “You are a state-run company. The least you can do is to preserve the workforce, pay salaries, make good products and sell them,” the President said.

Addressing the workers of the plant, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that MAZ as well as other famous Belarusian brands should be preserved. “If any one of you fails to pay due attention to quality, we will not survive competition,” said the President. “We have to preserve the enterprise and raise quality standards.”

“MAZ, BelAZ, and MMVZ make up the face of our country. We have no right and cannot let these companies go out of business. This is why I would like to tell sceptics and those, who don’t believe it today, that MAZ will always keep working, including in my time and the time after me,” said the head of state. The President stressed that keeping these and other enterprises working is a matter of honor for him. Apart from that, if these enterprises keep working, the economic base and jobs for future generations are preserved. “Our happiness is here, in this land. We should think about ways to preserve jobs for our children,” concluded Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Kind of a review of the main Belarusian mechanical engineering companies was arranged. Heads of BelAZ, Amkodor, Gomselmash, MTZ, and BelGee informed the head of state about their future plans and endeavors. The head of state examined the latest samples of the products made by these companies, the latest components and parts. Apart from instructions to ensure the high quality of products the discussion involved import substitution efforts, the reduction of manufacturing costs, and the increase in the share of Belarus-made components.

Belarusian civil servants will use only Belarusian-made automobiles as their company cars. Aleksandr Lukashenko gave a corresponding instruction when he saw an executive car, which is planned to be made at SZAO BelGee in Q3 2016. Aleksandr Lukashenko explained that it is not needed to replace all cars instantaneously because it would cost a lot. It is needed to replace cars gradually, when necessary.

Aleksandr Lukashenko expressed confidence that Belarus will overcome its economic woes, preserving peace in the country. “Economy is our main problem today. If we live through these difficult times, and they will be over sooner or later, we will then be afraid of nothing. We will overcome it. We are strong people,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. According to the President, when there is a war in the country, people do not talk about salaries or pensions. They need peace.