Working trip to Mogilev Oblast

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Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko urges the Mogilev Oblast authorities to pay more attention to industrial development and municipal improvement. The head of state made the statement during his working trip to Mogilev Oblast on 5 November.

Aleksandr Lukashenko decided to expand the agenda of the visit and suggested holding a session to discuss problem issues of Mogilev Oblast development.

The head of state emphasized that he was concerned about the situation in Mogilev Oblast and would like to hear about the performance of the oblast since the beginning of the year. The President remarked that he was getting alarming reports regarding the situation in Mogilev Oblast and the reports had been confirmed by independent sources. “Therefore, I cannot but be disturbed by the situation evolving in Mogilev Oblast,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

As an example the head of state mentioned several indicators of the region’s performance. In particular, in January-September 2014 Mogilev Oblast’s gross regional product totaled Br39.3 trillion or 96.8% as against the same period of last year in comparable prices. The industrial output amounted to nearly Br44 trillion (94.2% as against the same period of last year while the national average was 101.2%). As of 1 October, the stock in storage of industrial enterprises in Mogilev Oblast amounted to Br3 trillion in actual prices or 72% as against the average monthly output. According to preliminary data, in January-September 2014 Mogilev Oblast corporations exported $1.757 billion worth of merchandize, 94% as against the same period of last year without taking into account oil and oil products. The forecast for January-September 2014 is close to 110%. “It is another failure,” the President stated.

In January-September 2014 the import of merchandise fell by 10% to $1.237 billion. The oblast reported a merchandise trade surplus to the tune of $500 million. The head of state also mentioned distressing data regarding the operation of agricultural enterprises and industrial enterprises of the oblast.

“I cannot overlook this state of affairs in the region. I need concrete results. If there are no results like that, let’s think about who will produce these results, Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed.

The head of state explained the reason for the unexpected government conference involving the Mogilev Oblast administration. In his words, any meeting of the President and the executive personnel is always beneficial and allows discussing problems in the region confidentially.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that he had been trying to shape new executive personnel in the country. “You and I will have to take an exam before the Belarusian people in a year. Those, who watch personnel appointments, have surely noticed that new people have been appointed to administrative positions and the process will not end tomorrow,” the President said. “There is a practice: before a presidential election the nation has to clearly see the team they will work with after the election,” he added. The head of state also mentioned that changing personnel was an objective necessity.

The President remarked that in the near future he is going to hold a number of sessions to discuss the most troublesome issues of the country’s development.

In particular, in the near future the government will have to present its report and the social and economic development forecast will be discussed in addition to the state budget for 2015.

In the near future the Governor of Grodno Oblast is expected to deliver the report on the situation in the region. “I have to decide, primarily for myself, whether the choice was the right one,” the head of state said.

Besides, a government session will be held in Vitebsk Oblast to discuss the performance of agriculture. Aleksandr Lukashenko reminded that a special working group had been created to look into problems in this sector. “I was told that these decisions will result in robust development of agriculture. I specifically took some time away from the problem to see whether the statements made by the taskforce are justified and honest,” the President said. “The year is over, a good year. At the end of the year we may once again get together and see whether our agricultural team is a talented one, whether they have discerned negative trends correctly and whether they have suggested the right solutions for individual issues,” he added.

Housing and public utilities represent another area the President intends to direct attention to. “The group has worked on these issues. Now I am waiting to see how hidden defects are being addressed. We will talk about it in winter,” the head of state noted.

During the government session the head of state heard out opinions of auditing agencies, the administrations of the city of Mogilev, the district, and the oblast regarding the slow development pace of the region. The majority of those present agreed that the oblast had failed to work out a systematic approach to personnel selection.

“The style of work is useless. You have confirmed it yourself,” Aleksandr Lukashenko told Mogilev Oblast Governor Piotr Rudnik.

“We will take an exam before the nation next year. Meanwhile, people in the oblast are not getting paid or are paid too little. You have no order. Everything is stuck in the past century. There is no advancement. I am not saying it in an effort to find fault with you. Mogilev is the worst city in the country among the oblast capitals,” the President noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said that Mogilev Oblast Governor Piotr Rudnik will be able to make any personnel decisions in the region till 15 November.

“You have time till 15 November to replace every official below you starting with the first deputy and ending with heads of industrial enterprises, agricultural enterprises and rural administrations. Make the decisions and send me a letter about who you have fired and appointed,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

“I authorize the governor to make the decisions regarding all the enterprises of the region till 15 November. He will send me the letter and I will approve it,” the President added.

At the same time, the head of state stressed that Piotr Rudnik will be held responsible for the unsatisfactory performance of the region in the future.

The President added that by 1 January an executive order will be signed to stipulate the responsibility of executive personnel and their authority to make others responsible. The balancing of the document will be carried out by the end of the year.

“There will be no more talks like that. Forecasts may be well and good but what will happen in dynamics is more important for me,” the President said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was also made familiar with the development of the social infrastructure and municipal improvement efforts in Mogilev, visited the renovated bridge across the DnieperRiver and the company OOO Protos to produce metal structures, including steel bridge parts.

The head of state was informed about the prospects to develop the road network in Mogilev and the oblast using local construction materials. The traffic situation in the city is rather complicated because over the last five years the number of vehicles has increased by virtually 25%.

The bridge located in Shmidta Avenue has been in use since 1967 and has been overhauled only this year. With the overhauled bridge available traffic has been greatly optimized.

The President was informed about the need to repair another bridge in Pushkinsky Avenue that has been in use since 1959. Since state budget resources have to be used to repair the second bridge just like it was done to repair the first bridge, the head of state gave instructions to consider the inclusion of the modernization of yet another bridge in Mogilev into modernization plans for 2016.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also urged to pay close attention to the increase in traffic that goes via Belarus, including taking into account the situation in Ukraine. The quality of Belarusian roads has to meet the most stringent requirements.

The head of state deems it necessary to step up efforts to increase the transport flow via Belarus, especially taking into account the situation in Ukraine. In his opinion, the quality of Belarusian roads should meet modern requirements.

The President drew attention of the administration of the city and the oblast to drawbacks with regard to the accomplishment of Mogilev, particularly the area adjacent to the DnieperRiver.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also visited OOO Protos where he got familiar with the process to produce metal structures which were used in the capital repairs of the bridge across the DnieperRiver. The head of state was informed about the progress in the implementation of the investment project to build the factory to manufacture steel bridge parts.

The President also met with the company’s workers.

As the President’s trip to Mogilev Oblast took place in the run-up to October Revolution Day, Protos workers asked the head of state about his attitude to this holiday. The Belarusian President said that there is no reason to cancel the holiday of 7 November, though this holiday has ceased to have any political meaning. "I do not invest any political meaning in this holiday. It is just that people have got used to this holiday. Why do we need to cancel it?” the head of state said.

He explained: "I oppose revolutions, so as you are. But back then people were fighting for a better life". The head of state also stressed that he is against of breaking the historical traditions and renaming dates. "This holiday has a somewhat different agenda. By this day a production and fiscal year comes to an end at enterprises. I suggested they should use this holiday to demonstrate their yearly achievements to people,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.

Among other things the President said that the government will increase support to young families when possible, including support in buying homes.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that everything possible is being done in Belarus to that effect. “If we can, we will surely increase support. But young families should put some effort, too,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out that getting a loan with the interest rate of 4% per annum is as good as getting a gift when inflation is as high as 20% per annum. “In order to get the gifts you should pay five times more taxes, other enterprises should pay 3-4 times more taxes for the state budget to have the resources to gift homes to young families or families with kids, large families. But you cannot pay five times more taxes,” the President said. “We cannot put so much tax burden on the nation and corporations. Where can we get the money to give to young families then? We don’t have the money. We cannot print the money because it would crush the national currency in this period of crisis”.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that the state does its utmost. According to the President, large families are prioritized when the government decides who should get support first. It is done because raising the birth rate is problem number one in Belarus. “We don’t have enough population and I am forced to stimulate this birth rate,” the head of state said. “So we channel main resources into encouraging births,” he added.

“I often tell you that I have spoilt you a little. One cannot excessively help a person because the person stops working then. Take a look at Russia, for instance: few people over there hope for the state’s aid, people try to find jobs and make money”. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that money has to be earned first and it can be done in Belarus now. People should be more mobile and travel to places where homes and jobs are available.

The Belarusian President wants decisive measures to make scroungers work.

“You are already familiar with my demand that caused so much controversy: everyone who can work should work. No parasitism will be tolerated. Some do not work, do not pay taxes, but their level of living is not worse than yours. They milk the system taking advantage of education and healthcare that are provided free of charge or nearly free of charge,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state reiterated his demand to make scroungers work. In his words, there are about 400,000 sluggards in the country. “When they turn 60, they will claim a pension. Who will give them their pensions? You and me. Therefore, I want dramatic measures to deal with those who do not work anywhere,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

However, this does not pertain to those who work in Russia. “They say that Lukashenko wants those who work in Russia to come back. It is not true. Make money, send it here and this will be your contribution. I mean other people – sluggards who work neither in Belarus nor in Russia, nor in other countries,” the Belarusian President underlined.

Everyone should work, be useful to their families and the state, the Belarusian President underlined. “The areas of responsibility of the state are clear. These are children, education and healthcare, defense, security and many more. This needs money,” the head of state continued.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed once again that the state will do everything possible to eradicate freeloading practices.

One of young workers asked about the possibility to combine scientific research with production activities and expressed concerns about his future defense of a thesis.

Aleksandr Lukashenko, in turn, said that he supports scientific research which is directly linked to the production specialization. “If you started to write a thesis and explore an important and necessary theme, if you discover something new, your thesis will be supported,” the head of state said.

The head of state commended the company’s senior personnel for the establishment of this production and thanked them for good work. Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that Belarus will support private businessmen who set up companies.

“Those, who create manufacturing enterprises, manufacturing divisions using their own resources or loans, will always get support,” Aleksandr Lukashenko assured.

The President remarked that he had never spoken against private property.

He said that he has a special attitude to privatization: “We privatize enterprises but not across the board like some countries do. If we see that an enterprise does not perform well, we allow private businessmen to buy it — not for a song — and work”. As an example Aleksandr Lukashenko mentioned agriculture where private enterprises make up one third of the total number of agricultural enterprises. “And the process will continue,” he added.

“The country needs honesty and justice. Come and start any enterprise starting with farm tourism estates, which by the way work very well. May we see more enterprises that make products instead of reselling them,” stressed the President.