Working trip to Gomel Oblast

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There are good prospects for the development of the wood processing industry in the country, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said during his working trip to Gomel Oblast on 11 April.

The head of state was informed about the social and economic development of the region and the progress in the spring sowing campaign. The President said that Gomel Oblast should ensure a maximum efficiency of farming this year. “Farming standards are rather high, and the situation should be the same everywhere,” Aleksandr Lukashenko demanded.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also emphasized the importance of efficient farming and technological discipline.

The head of state mentioned the facts of the irrational use of fuel and theft. This is inadmissible. “Tell everybody that it is extremely important to save resources,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “Use fuel in a rational way.”

The President also inspected the progress in the sowing of grain maize at the state-owned farm Istok.

The head of state was informed that 718,000 hectares, or 30% of lands, were under spring crops as of 11 April.

During the working trip Aleksandr Lukashenko visited OAO Rechitsadrev. The head of state was briefed on the fulfillment of his instructions to retool, modernize and develop basic wood processing enterprises, production and economic conditions at OAO Rechitsadrev, and development prospects of the enterprise. The President familiarized himself with modern technological processes involved in the manufacture of chipboards and furniture, saw the exposition of Rechitsadrev products.

Chairman of the Development Bank of the Republic of Belarus Sergei Rumas said that a lot is being done in the country to improve the financial standing of troubled enterprises. Sergei Rumas said that profitable work of the holding company must be secured this year. “Actually only one enterprise may be working below the breakeven threshold but we are looking into it now considering various options,” he said.

At the meeting with the personnel of OAO Rechitsadrev Aleksandr Lukashenko said that there are good prospects for the development of the wood processing industry in Belarus. The head of state reminded that some time ago he made a decision to modernize wood processing enterprises. However, there was an ambiguous reaction. “I understood why certain people criticize it and who criticize it. These are the people who do not want improvement,” he explained.

The process of modernization was not easy. There were certain problems, but this upgrade is nearing completion. According to the head of state, those enterprises would have disappeared without modernization. “They would have died on the market, no one would have bought their products. It is great that we made a timely decision to modernize them back then taking into account the availability of raw materials in the country,” he said.

The production of white pulp will be launched in Svetlogorsk District soon, existing enterprises will increase their production capacity. As a result, the output of timber will be raised to 20 million cubic meters per year in the country. Belarus’ resources make up 30-32 million cubic meters. “If we do not process wood on time it will worsen. You know what it means. Something will be used as firewood or chipped wood. That’s all. It is needed to process more than the next year’s target of 20 million cubic meters. We should process 30-35 million cubic meters of wood,” Aleksandr Lukashenko believes.

Speaking about the development of the economy in Belarus in general, the head of state once again reminded about his requirement to raise the average salary in the country to Br1,000 by the end of the year. “Br1,000 is a minimum amount and we should help people earn it. Then they will take care of themselves. Of course, we will encourage them. Directors and the government will do it. We must restore the level that we once had,” the President said.

The head of state also spoke about employment. In particular, there are several hundreds of unemployed people in Rechitsa. They account for less than 1% of able-bodied citizens. “They should be able to get a job in accordance with their qualifications. Many people want to work, earn a lot of money but they did not even do well at school. You can criticize me if you want. You will have other presidents, and they will pursue the same policy if they want to keep the country stable. It is inadmissible when 350,000 ‘social parasites’, as they call themselves, in the country are doing nothing. Is it normal?” the President wondered.

In his words, there are many potential delinquents among these people. They can start committing crimes for money.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that he is not against criticism. However, people should think about the future of their country first. “If you want to criticize, go ahead, but think about the future. Everybody should work today,” the President is convinced. “The time is difficult, but we already see the light at the end of the tunnel.”

The President also spoke about pricing. According to him, the state will deal with unreasonably high prices. “The government has already started to move. Market-oriented people emerged there: they released prices for everything and saw their growth,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was asked about the development prospects of regions. The head of state remarked that some time ago he gave an instruction to renovate all construction and maintenance organizations in regions. This work will be continued.

Speaking about the beautification of towns and the personal responsibility of all people for what is going on in their native place, Aleksandr Lukashenko said that every person can make a contribution to turning their town into a beautiful and well-kept place.

Radical measures will be taken in Belarus soon to liberate private business, the President said. “In the near future we will make revolutionary decisions on entrepreneurship, on private business. We will liberate large businesses like Rechitsadrev, small ones, and self-employed businessmen. People will be able to come, leave a note they want to pursue this or that line of business, get registered with the tax office, and start working. Fire inspections, sanitary inspections and things like that will be reduced as much as possible,” the head of state said.

The Belarusian leader noted that executives of any rank must still prioritize their responsibility for the people they employ and their livelihoods. While business operation terms will be liberalized, responsibility for the life of employees remains a priority.

Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that soon he will take a look at a legal act on entrepreneurship. “We are going to fully liberate business initiatives. Feel free to go ahead, do business and earn money. We have enabled the conditions for it. The conditions we haven’t enabled will be made available very soon,” the head of state said.

The President also shared his opinion about important international issues. Aleksandr Lukashenko commented on the recent U.S. missile attack on a Syrian airbase during his meeting with the personnel of OAO Rechitsadrev. “I was very sad to hear about the attack. Solving domestic political issues through aggressive foreign policy is not the right thing to do. Today the United States cannot transform or rule the whole world alone or with its closest NATO allies. They should limit their appetites and take care of the things of their greatest interest. And their major interests are in North America,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The Belarusian leader invited the participants to take a broader look at the issue. Donald Trump was elected President of the United States by the people, but he is confronted by the country’s political elite and the parliament. The U.S. leader tries to keep his campaign promises, and his initiatives are obstructed in every way. “He has to prove his ability to run the country, and he faces opposition from those who lost, and also from some of the rich,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out. In such situations, some push the button to solve domestic political issues and please the people, he added.

On the other side of the scale we have gas attacks on civilians in Syria (if they did take place as claimed), the head of state added. Although the information about the gas attacks was rather contradictory, it was the official reason of the U.S. missile strike. Aleksandr Lukashenko is convinced that before taking such serious actions, it is necessary to analyze the situation thoroughly.

The Belarusian leader cited China’s foreign policy as an example. China is a powerful country with state-of-the-art weapons, and it does not engage in international conflicts. The country is busy developing its economy. Now it is the world’s leader in many aspects.

As for Russia and the United States, Aleksandr Lukashenko believes that the two nuclear powers will not come to open confrontation. Otherwise, the world will face a catastrophe, since other countries possessing nuclear weapons will get engaged. “The world has come to a very dangerous line it has never seen before,” the Belarusian leader stressed. He believes that the leaders of the world powers should sit down at the negotiating table to talk about what kind of world people want to live in and make relevant decisions.

When asked to comment on the efficiency of the country’s new visa-free rules for citizens of 80 states and their reciprocal moves, the head of state said: “This is the task of the minister of foreign affairs and the ministry of foreign affairs to secure Belarusians with the opportunity to visit the countries of their interest, especially our neighbors. We have no problems with traveling to Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan. There is also Europe, the Schengen zone and they try to protect themselves. We are doing our best to find common ground with them as well, holding talks on tourism matters,” the President said.

He explained that Belarus’ five-day visa-free rules are the country's wish to open itself to the world, first of all. The country needs more foreign guests, which means additional currency earnings for the state.