MINSK, 15 November (BelTA) – The National Investment and Privatization Agency will facilitate the arrival of investors in Belarus, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko told a government session held on 15 November to discuss the foundation and operation of the new government agency.
The agency is supposed to streamline all processes and provide a one-stop way for investors to explore the Belarusian market, enabling the country to raise its economic potential, said the President.
Alexander Lukashenko regretted that there are many complaints about the interaction of government agencies with investors at national and local levels. Businessmen are unhappy about red-tape practices that government agencies demonstrate. “Indeed, prior to starting an investment project businessmen are supposed to get a whole lot of permissions and approvals from various ministries, oblast, town and district authorities and other organizations. The process can often take up to two years,” said the Belarusian head of state.
On the other hand, the President said that civil servants complain about inactive investors, their inability to fulfill their obligations and their inflated claims. Both the phenomena exist, stated Alexander Lukashenko.
He reminded that Belarusian regulations had been changed recently to remove any barriers for investors, allow them to resolve their problems fast and introduce a systematic approach to this area. Preferential terms have been granted for the startup time and for the entire duration of an investment project. In addition, Belarus has created specialized institutions to step up investment inflow, in particular, the institution of investment agents.
The decision to set up the National Investment and Privatization Agency has been made taking into account recommendations of respected international financial and credit organizations. The new government agency is supposed to enable effective day-to-day interaction with investors and to polish the technology for privatizing state property.
Yet Alexander Lukashenko doubted that Belarus needs the agency. “I am not yet convinced that we did the right thing by copying foreign experience. I am not yet convinced that it will definitely help us raise investments”.
The Belarus President is concerned whether the new agency will repeat the mistakes its predecessor had committed, as the new agency has been built virtually on top of the old one. Instead of facilitating the arrival of investors the new agency might become yet another bureaucratic institution. Alexander Lukashenko doubted whether the National Investment and Privatization Agency of Belarus will be able to establish effective interaction with other government agencies, both central and regional ones, interaction with top executives of companies, whether the agency will drain resources of the central state budget. “The key question is what the agency will give to the country in the near future and in the distant future? Creating the agency, we can relieve ministries, agencies, and heads of enterprises of some other responsibilities. It is very dangerous to substitute interaction with investors with the creation of some specific albeit important body,” said Alexander Lukashenko.