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22 Oct 2018

Alcohol industry in focus of Belarus’ government meeting

Alcohol industry in focus of Belarus’ government meeting

MINSK, 22 October (BelTA) - Development of the alcoholic beverages industry in Belarus is high on the agenda of the meeting chaired by the head of state Alexander Lukashenko, BelTA has learned.

“Alcoholic beverages are a special excisable product. Their sale is strictly regulated by the state everywhere in the world. Belarus is no exception. Probably, we have the most stringent regulation because we have a certain monopoly on the production and sale of alcohol. I am absolutely convinced that at this point we should reinforce this monopoly based on the experience of recent years,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko suggested discussing the problems related to alcohol consumption. “It is no secret that this product brings good revenue to the budget in our country, like in any other. We do not hide this fact. But this is not the main thing. The main thing is consequences of alcohol consumption. I would like the government members responsible for the development of the alcohol industry to report on the consequences,” the head of state said.

The president recalled that the development of the alcoholic beverages industry was discussed at the highest level three years ago. Then the problems of the industry were scrutinized and necessary decisions taken. “Today the question is how those decisions are consistent with the spirit of the times, based on the practical experience. The areas of effective development of the industry were identified then. Today we need to answer the question what is missing in this regard, the Belarusian leader said.

Protection of the domestic market is one of the issues. “We cannot allow counterfeit products on our market or shadow turnover of alcoholic beverages. It is, first of all, the threat to the life and health of people,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

“I am not saying that we have a big problem with this business, especially with the import of products of poor quality (the import makes up only 3-3.5%, and we import the products we do not produce),” said Alexander Lukashenko.

The president emphasized the signs of unfair competition in the domestic market, difficulties in mutual settlements between suppliers and consumers, and a slow export growth. “It is alarming that the government, local authorities, law enforcement agencies, and the manufacturers themselves have different opinions on the problem and cannot develop a coordinated position,” the Belarusian leader said.

According to Alexander Lukashenko, there is a need take up balanced and systemic decisions. “This must be done professionally and objectively, since any change or innovation affects both consumers and industry workers. We must take into account their interests first,” the president added.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Mikhail Rusy, the decisions taken at a similar meeting in 2015 had a positive effect. They helped protect the domestic market, improve quota procedures for the production of alcoholic beverages, coordinate measures to increase existing and set up new production facilities. Effective decisions were also taken to curb the import of counterfeit products into the country.

“In the Eurasian Economic Commission, Belarus persistently upholds its position to preserve the mandatory certification of alcohol products in order to protect people's life and health, and the quality products on the market,” said Mikhail Rusy.

Another issue for discussion at the meeting was the situation in the agricultural sector, including the end of the harvest season and preparations for spring sowing.

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