Working trip to Brest Oblast

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The strategy to guide the development of the Belarusian mechanical engineering industry will be determined soon. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he visited the Pinsk-based enterprise of the mechanical engineering holding company Amkodor on 27 May.

“We are preparing a major government conference at the level of the president in order to make strategic decisions,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Specialists are now working on the program of the strategy for the mechanical engineering industry. But let me tell you the most important thing: our mechanical engineering industry will live, it will not be curtailed. We are competitive. Nobody claims anymore that we cannot compete with Germany, Sweden or France. We can make things as well as they do.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that in the past there were a lot of debates about whether Belarus should preserve and develop major industrial enterprises such as MTZ, MAZ, BelAZ, and Amkodor. Opinions were voiced in favor of shutting down or selling these enterprises and focusing on some other kind of business.
“We have preserved all of them, including Amkodor. Today it is not the enterprise it was in the past. It is a huge holding company that comprises about 20 enterprises with over 6,000 employees. Amkodor makes cutting-edge products that sell well on the global market,” stated the President.

“It is necessary to develop what we know how to make. This is why we are resolute to bolster the mechanical engineering industry,” stressed the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said it is possible that a number of foreign investors may be interested in starting a manufacturing business in Belarus. “Including European and Chinese investors. There are wealthy individuals in the Russian Federation, too. They are welcome to work here and we invite them to work here. We are going to create Belarusian products. If they are willing to invest their money, they can go right ahead. We will work together,” remarked the head of state.

The President was informed that enterprises of the holding company Amkodor, including Amkodor Pinsk, operate steadily, produce competitive goods, and see development prospects. However, there are certain difficulties arising from external factors, exchange rate differences, and the need to repay loans spent on expanding the production capacity. All this washes out a certain amount of working assets which are of critical importance for the company’s performance, especially in the context of the growing demand for the relevant products.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stated that the possibility of supporting Amkodor’s development plans will be considered. “Not so much money is needed to recover from the situation. About $35-40 million to reinvigorate manufacturing and secure the performance figures you plan to reach at the end of the year. We will try to help you. I think we will find the resources. But certainly we need returns. The enterprise has to grow whatever it may cost us,” said Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Speaking about work on foreign markets, the head of state noted that Belarusian companies should team up instead of competing with each other. It is necessary to set up common platforms to sell vehicles and equipment and provide services.

The President spoke at length about employment matters. Preserving the workforce potential and competent specialists at various levels is a priority. It is particularly relevant at the time of a crisis when, guided by only market principles, many companies are tempted to go the easy way and sack employees. Such actions can result in lost competences and can deliver a blow to the future development of the enterprise. “We cannot let it happen. You’d better reduce salaries a bit instead. Every crisis has an end somewhere,” stressed the Belarusian leader.

The head of state was made familiar with an exhibition of the latest and promising vehicles and equipment made by enterprises of the holding companies Amkodor and Saleo. The two holding companies are Belarus’ top manufacturers of utility vehicles and a wide range of automobile components. Their enterprises make 90 models of machines, vehicles and equipment as well as over 2,000 various products for mobile hydraulic systems and machine tools.

ZAO Amkodor Pinsk that Aleksandr Lukashenko visited on 27 May specializes in making excavators, loaders, road rollers, and other vehicles. “It is a great manufacturing enterprise. While drilling a hole in the land to extract something requires experience and skills, that kind of business is much simpler than manufacturing this kind of merchandise. We have learned how to do it, including Amkodor,” noted Aleksandr Lukashenko.

Matters concerning the social and economic development of Brest Oblast and the city of Pinsk were also discussed during the working trip to the region. The head of state took a close interest in the progress of the forage harvesting campaign in agricultural enterprises.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked to ZAO Amkodor Pinsk employees. One of the key questions the President answered was related to the forthcoming Belarusian People’s Congress. The event will be important primarily for executives and civil servants of all kinds. “They should hear and see which way the country is going to develop. It will be a meaningful discussion about problematic issues. These are not simple matters. They will, first of all, feel the load of the tasks to be set forth and will take part in the development of the corresponding policy,” noted the President.

Top performers, hard-working employees representing agriculture and other branches of the national economy, who will speak on behalf of their labor collectives, will also attend the Belarusian People’s Congress.

“The Belarusian People’s Congress will sketch out our future. It will take a look at the production sector as a whole, its development pace, at agriculture, transport, civil engineering industry and so on,” said the head of state.

“But economy is what matters. We have already made decisions on other areas. But economy remains an issue that raises a lot of questions and even disagreements. This is why I’ve given instructions to polish the program within ten days,” added the President.

In his opinion, the program on the country’s social and economic development in 2016-2020, which will be discussed during the Belarusian People’s Congress, should set ambitious tasks for the government. “I think that in the five-year period we should raise the GDP by at least 12%. The government suggests raising it by 10.1% for now,” said the Belarusian leader.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also informed about efforts to diversify export markets, ways to overcome crisis phenomena in economy, and approaches to developing the production sector.

Matters of sport were also raised during the meeting, including the poor performance of the Belarusian ice hockey team during the latest world championship. “Certainly, it was a slap in the face for every Belarusian. However, there is no need for self-chastising. Sport is all about competing and willing to win,” stressed Aleksandr Lukashenko. “Today they do not play hockey, they fight. When you step onto the ice, you should be prepared to fight to the bitter end. We were not. It is the key shortcoming of our ice hockey players. It is also true about some other athletes of ours.”

The President stressed that the government had done everything to encourage ice hockey development in the country. “We should pay more attention to the national championship. We want solid players and well-performing teams. We cannot pin all hopes on HC Dinamo alone,” stated Aleksandr Lukashenko. “The domestic championship, the coaching staff and a hardline approach to training athletes are what we need to focus on. Salaries must depend on results. It is the policy we are going to pursue.”