Visit to OAO Minsk Tractor Works

  • 9
Belarus will retain skilled workforce and will get rid of idlers, Belarus President of Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he talked to the workers of OAO Minsk Tractor Works on 15 May.

“We will preserve labor teams, but we will support only those who want to work. The competition will be growing tougher in the future. Therefore there is no place for freeloaders, idlers and drunkards in workplace,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the situation in the world is not easy. The global economy is recovering slowly. In his words, the external factors, including the situation on the Russian market where Belarus exports about a half of all its products, are the main reasons for the current trends in the Belarusian economy. “MTZ was lucky because it manufactures in-demand goods. It is impossible to feed and dress people without your equipment,” the President said.

At the same time, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that there is one more reason for the existing issues: it is the lack of proper organization. The President deemed it necessary to reduce the prime cost of goods. He said that it is number one priority. “If we do not reduce the prime cost and prices, we will never be rich,” the Belarusian leader said.

During the trip to OAO MTZ the President was informed about the financial and economic performance and the development prospects of the company. In particular, the plant’s managerial personnel have a clear-cut plan of developing companies included in MTZ Holding Company, plans of modernizing equipment and launching new promising product lines. They also have developed plans to promote MTZ goods on foreign markets and reduce the backlog of inventory. The President was made familiar with the samples of equipment and inspected the line of Amkodor vehicles. Apart from that, Aleksandr Lukashenko visited workshops of the tractor plant, saw modern technological processes.

Speaking about the impressions from the visit to Minsk Tractor Works, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he was prepared for the worst. However, the real state of affairs was different. In spite of a number of serious difficulties, the plant has good prospects. “The main thing is that the managerial personnel see the development prospects for the next five years. I am convinced that the investments needed for the modernization of the enterprise can be found in its production capacities,” the head of state noted.

The President also reminded that both MTZ and other companies buy natural gas at a price that is virtually two times lower than that in the West. It is a huge competitive edge. “Perhaps, it will not always be like that. We will try to reduce the prime cost of our products as much as possible. As for the rest, if you want to earn more, keep the prime cost in mind, save electricity and use modern equipment. We cannot do without modernization,” the Belarusian leader said.

“There will be no populism. Your plant has always been and will remain the brand of Belarus,” the President stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also confirmed his previous statements that the government will provide support to concrete business plans, contracts and projects. Besides, there is a task to diversify export markets and reduce the dependence on the markets of traditional partners.

The President instructed the government to do everything possible to protect the domestic market from the unjustified import of products which are made in Belarus. Belarusian companies should not buy tractors and other equipment which are produced in Belarus abroad this year, the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko did not exclude the possibility that modern equipment can have certain drawbacks. “But we must understand we have established such production facilities in recent years. Naturally, time is needed to fine-tune the equipment,” the President said. “I know that Minsk authorities have imported equipment for municipal services. What for? The plant producing Belarusian tractors is here. It will immediately repair all spare part,” the added.

Addressing top-level government officials, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed: “We are not members of the WTO, we do not have obligations before them. Let’s protect our domestic market.”

According to the head of state, a special session will be held in the near future to discuss these issues. At the session the government will prove the need to import certain goods.

“We have just opened the country to everyone. But we also must protect and support local manufacturers, promote their products. This is how we can diversify sales markets,” the head of state added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also said that the government should take retaliatory measures if the barriers to the export of Belarusian products are created in the West. They [representatives of the western countries] visit our country and I always advise them against such steps. We have told them: you fence off from us, we will fence off from you and see how you will trade via the Baltic states or Ukraine, the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that even when Russia imposed the retaliatory sanctions on a number of western products, Belarus has never stopped cooperating with western suppliers.

During the visit to MTZ the President also spoke about cooperation with China. The head of state was informed that among other things the latest state visit of China President Xi Jinping to Belarus had helped address a number of issues in cooperation between MTZ and Chinese partners. “If you are unable to reach the Chinese market and work there even after this, we are no good,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Xi Jinping is a friend of Belarus and was genuinely interested in finding new avenues to advance cooperation during the visit. “He would gather his people, would give concrete instructions. There was one purpose: to help Belarusians because they have never failed. It was a milestone visit,” said the head of state. “When he was leaving Belarus he said he had not expected Belarus to be like that and had not expected the visit to be so productive. The Chinese never say anything without a reason.”

According to the President, a major step has been made in the development of interregional ties between Belarus and China.

According to the head of state, the allocated preferential and commercial credit resources will be used not only for large projects on the country’s scale. There are plans to allow small businesses to access some of them. “I would also like to give these loans to small businesses, to the private sector. They are free to take them, provided repayment is guaranteed. It is necessary to accelerate the creation of an alternative economy. We would like more private businesses to emerge, work, and develop,” the Belarusian leader stated.

On the whole, the Belarusian leader remarked that serious changes had been introduced into Belarusian-Chinese relations as a result of the visit. The changes will allow mending some trouble spots in the Belarusian economy.

With the capacity to raise salaries limited, control over prices in Belarus will stay. “We will try to strike a balance so that prices would not overwhelm salaries,” the Belarusian leader said.

“The key task in Belarus prior to the election is to avoid populism and salary raises. We have to preserve the levels registered last year,” the head of state said.

“We will control prices. Virtually all the prices depend on us. We see where prices fall and where prices rise. If prices for imports rise, it is okay. We just don’t want prices for Belarus-made goods to rise,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Yet the head of state underlined that in some cases it is inadmissible to keep down prices because the availability of merchandise in retail will be reduced otherwise. “But we see and control prices for many kinds of merchandise,” he stated.

Talking to MTZ workers, the President noted in particular that “we are not going to move the way we did before as far as prices for utilities are concerned”.

Speaking about possible increases in salaries, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that it was up to the management of individual enterprises. In his words, if finances are available, it is always possible to financially stimulate the specialists, who are vital for the company’s future development. “If you are doing well, pay a bit more. But we have to explain to people that today we need to invest in modernization in order to implement these plans by 2020,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told MTZ Director General Fyodor Domotenko.