Visit to First National Trading House in Minsk

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  • 19:21

Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko visited the shopping center First National Trading House in Minsk.

Upon arrival at the shopping center the President was welcomed not only by government officials and reporters but also by Ded Moroz [Grandfather Frost] and Snegurochka [Snow Maiden] because the event was taking place ahead of New Year’s Eve.

Nevertheless, Aleksandr Lukashenko made everyone pay attention to business by hearing out a report about the construction of the place, which had been overdue for years. An Iranian company was initially supposed to build a shopping and entertainment center at the site more than ten years ago. “It was effectively an abandoned facility. Instructions were given to build a shopping center and rental apartments for military personnel [on upper floors above the shopping center]. Everything was done the way it was conceived,” the Belarusian leader said.

The construction of the facility had to be completed on a tight schedule. Aleksandr Lukashenko drew attention to some flaws in the interior finish. He gave instructions to approach the matter wisely without spending crazy money. “Do what you think is right. The key thing is not to waste crazy money on it. Make it convenient for people,” he said.

“I was worried about trade in the least. I was concerned about getting our regions represented here. So that they would not cry that they are not given access to Minsk, not allowed to trade, that it is impossible to sell goods… Go ahead and sell. But I would like it to be the beginning. In this regard we should go ahead with building such facilities not only across Belarus but also in Russia. Why can’t we build such a place in St. Petersburg and bring the goods? In Moscow, Smolensk, Bryansk, Pskov… Not that big of a distance. And we could place our goods there and sell them. Besides, Russians don’t mind. Particularly in St. Petersburg – people meet us half-way. Bring the goods and sell them. And people respond well to Belarusian goods,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “I would like us to think about it. Otherwise, we give the goods to some frauds [mediators] at half the price and they sell our goods in Russia. And then we put bunches of them in prison in Belarus for taking bribes.”

“This is why such a [trading] house was necessary. Oblast governors pitched in. We helped with something. A simple and convenient house. Since it has been built, bring the goods and sell them. Particularly in Belarus. If you want to conquer your market and surrender it to no one, then naturally you need shops of your own in Belarus. We will get back to it yet. We have already talked about it using our light industry as an example,” the Belarusian leader added.

According to Minsk Mayor Vladimir Kukharev, the underground crosswalk was built near the shopping center. “This is the first underground walkway in the country built using a tunneling method (without removing the ground above). Metrostroi Company made the tunnel. Now we have the necessary technology. We can implement more construction projects without stopping road traffic,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko praised the approach and suggested scaling up this experience across the country. “This is the task for the governors to monitor the process,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko toured the chain stores and catering facilities by leading Belarusian manufacturers.

"This is a unifying idea. We need to go this way," the head of state said.

The first store the President saw was Pinskdrev’s furniture showroom. By the way, the company has almost 150 stores throughout the country and about 100 more in Russia. Moreover, Pinskdrev has built its own commodity distribution network there. Aleksandr Lukashenko sets this format of work as an example for other manufacturers.

Speaking about the production of furniture, the head of state stressed that fabrics and accessories should be made in Belarus. "I'm interested in Belarus producing as many things as possible: fabrics, leather, wood... We can do that," he said. "If we can, why then we do not produce them?"

Aleksandr Lukashenko also toured a bed linen store from the Blakit company, a Belarusian porcelain store, a jewelry salon by the well-known Gomel enterprise Kristall, and a grocery store of Gomel Oblat. Here, the head of state tasted the products made by regional enterprises.

In a store of the Neman glass factory, Aleksandr Lukashenko was briefed about the work of the enterprise. According to top executives, the plant has a lot of orders now. Products sell fast.

"If things are truly the way you describe, then I thank you for keeping the plant alive and running," the President said.

The President recalled that back in the day the plant was struggling and had to be saved in order to preserve production and competencies. Gomel-based Kristall was once in a similar situation.