Visit to Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant
The state has no plans to sell OAO Minsk Wheel Tractor Plant (MZKT trademark), Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he visited the enterprise on 14 August.
“I would not want to see the assets founded by people privatized and sold for a song,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that in the past year or two certain people have been pushing the idea to sell this enterprise. ”You know my attitude to privatization. We did not set up this enterprise. It was created by several generations of people. This is at least the third generation of MZKT workers, and it is not up for us to decide. However, we will sell it if we have to,” the Belarusian leader noted.
“Do we have a deadlock situation which compels us to sell this enterprise?” the President added.
The head of state reminded that first of all the enterprise’s personnel should agree to privatize it. Then the corresponding endorsement is needed from the Minsk City Hall and the minister, then the government. After that privatization documents will be submitted to the president who will decide on the privatization of the enterprise.
Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there have been too many offers already. In his words, the Russian Federation has a very active position on the issue.
“If we sell something, we will set a high price for it. But they often tell us that they can build such a plant for $1 billion, while we want $2 billion. I tell them that they can try. Construction works are not very expensive; they can buy equipment using the loans provided by the manufacturers of this equipment. But who will teach people to work with this equipment, who will teach people to make high-quality products? It will take not years but decades to train specialists,” the head of state said. Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that he has the experience of working with Russians. “They wanted to give up on MTZ vehicles, to set up new production lines at a plant in Vologda. However, they are still buying our tractors. They are buying MZKT products, too,” the President said.
According to the President, he decided to visit the enterprise to see with his own eyes if it can make good products or if it is high time to sell it. “As a result, I saw that neither the MZKT administration nor the minister want to see the plant go on sale. Today we can work, can cooperate with Russians. We have always been responsible people who have always implemented all contracts and agreements with the Russian Federation. We are ready to work,” the head of state said.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that both the MZKT administration and the administrations of other enterprises have a task not to lose the Russian market. “Yes, we have to compete there. But if there is no competition, if you do not make progress, you will be lagging behind, and they will start buying similar products in the West,” the President emphasized. He added that competition should be fair. In his words, Belarus has joined the Eurasian Economic Union to enjoy unified rules. MZKT is not a loser in this competition, and it is not a private company. “It means that state-run companies can be efficient,” the President noted.
“We are not going to sell this enterprise. It should be efficient. This is an example of work in complicated conditions,” the President stressed.
He also added: “But if someone offers us $3 billion, we will consider. However, I will tell them that they must respect the workers’ rights, pay good salaries and be good managers because Belarus is not their home country. We have already seen examples when certain people were trying to put pressure on workers, produce more and pay less. But such people are aware of my attitude”. He reminded that Belarus has already reclaimed certain inefficient private enterprises and now they work well. “Therefore, one of the tasks of the president-to-be is to protect people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko underlined.
During the visit to the enterprise the head of state was informed about the fulfillment of his instructions to raise the efficiency of MZKT state support, comprehensive modernization of the enterprise, production of new machines and wheeled combat vehicles.
All enterprises of the State Military Industrial Committee of Belarus have strong order intake and operate in the black. The program of developing the defense sector of the economy and the Military Industrial Committee till 2020 has been approved. There are no loss-making enterprises in the structure of the State Military Industrial Committee; all enterprises are doing their best to diversify export. As for MZKT, the enterprise implements a number of contracts in certain fields designed to run till 2020. New export contracts will be concluded soon. The plant exports its goods to 20 countries, including Russia, the UAE, Turkey, and China. Every year MZKT launches two to seven new products. Designers are currently working on the samples of new equipment which will be produced next year.
Aleksandr Lukashenko also had a tour of the plant, saw the exhibition of MZKT products meant for the Armed Forces and the Belarusian economy, exported goods.
The President talked to the workers of the plant.
Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that in these difficult times when the world order is being re-determined, protecting and preserving the country is the key task.
“However hard it can be we should preserve peace in our country regardless of who is the president. It is necessary to have peace and stability,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“I’ve started to wonder what the nation would like the future presidential candidates to say. It turns out the nation would like higher salaries and preferably less work. This desire has always existed. I understand it perfectly well. But it is not the most important thing today,” said the Belarusian leader.
In his words, the world is being re-divided now. The world order was simple in the past. Now things are much more complicated. “For instance, the entire world is now united in the fight against ISIS. Every country is waging a war against it,” noted the head of state. “But nobody can be bothered to find out how this ISIS where people from all over the world have gathered can stand up to those powerful countries that are allegedly fighting against it.”
“And entire countries get broken. The Western coalition led by America cannot defeat it. Why? Because in this coalition someone finances ISIS, someone benefits from ISIS. You are free to guess who benefits from the situation. In order to change the world’s architecture. In order to redistribute or, more precisely, capture the lands rich in hydrocarbon resources. By proxy. With the help of those poor people, who have been brainwashed and are marching to their deaths,” said the President.
“Everything is much more complicated. The world is being re-divided. While salaries are important, as the Belarus president I have to defend this country. In this tumultuous sea it is necessary to preserve our boat, to prevent it from going down,” added the head of state.
“We have a very simple attitude to the situation in Ukraine: nationalists, fascists, corruption and the rest. It is the surface of the situation,” continued Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Not only domestic reasons brought about the crisis in Ukraine. Yes, it was convenient for the sake of drastically reversing the state of affairs. But powers that be are on both sides of the fighting.”
“And now we have to find balance, we have to defend this piece of land maybe not for ourselves but for our children. It is what matters today. The global situation is very complicated. They are fighting for world domination, for influencing the world,” noted the President.
“Nowadays America cannot secure its leadership on its own. There is China where roughly 1.5 billion people live, there is India with 1.6 billion. Pakistan is a nuclear power, too. The European Union is unhappy about something. Things are getting tight over there. In economy these factors manifest as tough competition and suppression. As an average country we have to stand our ground, we have to survive. We don’t want to go under. It is the key thing that matters today,” remarked the Belarusian leader.
Aleksandr Lukashenko made it clear that Belarusians should preserve their own land. “Our having to live in a foreign land is the only thing I’d hate. I would like the nation to never be poor again and never feel oppression like it happened in the course of our history,” he noted.
“This is why while talking about Ukraine (I am not trying to get any benefits from this topic) it is necessary to understand that if we slip up, we will be dealt with even faster than Ukraine was. We can go on only if we stand together and if we ensure internal stability,” said the head of state.
MZKT workers asked the head of state about the promising professions which young people should choose to become in-demand specialists in the future.
"You cannot reproach the authorities in Belarus for the lack of promising, good jobs for young people," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
He cited the example of the space industry. Belarus has already launched its first satellite. The second one, according to the President, will be even more efficient. Images from the Belarusian space satellite are in demand in many industries, and it is youth who will be working in this area.
Belarus is building a nuclear power plant. These are the most advanced, high-paying jobs, added the President. At the first phase alone we will need about 5,000-7,000 people, he noted.
MZKT itself, which is undergoing the upgrade on the instruction of the President, needs designer, executives. “All these are for youth. Therefore, we have no problem with youth employment. Our main task is to convince our children that they will be better off at home than abroad," the President stressed.
When commenting on the situation with the forced immigration in Europe, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that people from Libya, Syria which were devastated by military conflicts are ready to risk their lives and go to Europe. However, there are extremists among these people, too. “These countries should not have been destroyed. It would have been better to cooperate with them and share values with them,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said adding that he means true values, not the propaganda of homosexuality. “They wanted to impose these values on Arabs. But neither we nor Arabs will accept such things,” the head of state is convinced.
As for Belarus, it is a transit country which keeps migration under stringent control. Those who are trying to illegally go to Europe via Belarus are caught. “This is not a catastrophe for us, because our unity helps us cope with this issue,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
However, this process is a very dangerous one as Belarus is an open country which cannot close its borders on the crossroads of all routes, Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The head of state was asked how the trade union movement was developing in the private sector and whether the process was slowed down after the congress of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus in May.
“Our entire nation will get equal guarantees everywhere,” stressed the President. “People employed by private enterprises and state ones are equal. They should be equally protected.”
“Whether the process slows down or not after the congress depends only on you. You know that I supported this process. The trade unions now have new leaders. As you can see they are normal, sensible young people. I have supported and support you everywhere. You have to notice whether the process goes at private enterprises pro forma or not and whether they have the social package that state enterprises offer or not,” said the Belarusian leader.
In his words, there is no catastrophe yet, however, some complaints have been submitted. “But if I am told that the decisions I have made are not fulfilled or are fulfilled pro forma, you know what will happen. This is why you just have to tip me off about what is going on,” said the head of state.
“I don’t think anyone in our country will risk neglecting the president’s decisions,” added Aleksandr Lukashenko.
“You can see how private businesses demand conditions equal to those state enterprises enjoy! They will have to treat the employees the way state enterprises do. It is where the idea originates. This is why everything depends on you. If you inform us in time, we will have enough authority to bring things to order here, too,” noted the President.