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26 Jan 2017

Lukashenko: Average salary of $500 neither a staggering figure nor populism

MINSK, 26 January (BelTA) – Average salary of $500 is not a staggering figure. Nor it is populism, Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said during a meeting with research and teaching staff after the ceremony to present doctor of sciences diplomas and professor certificates to scientists and lecturers on 26 January, BelTA has learned.

“The situation is not catastrophic in the country and people are able to make money. But nevertheless we need to improve the standards of living. The average salary of $500 is not a staggering figure. I have been briefed that in December last year the average salary was roughly $417 in the country. It is not that far from the target of $500,” the president noted.

According to the head of state, there are skeptics among the government members who believe that it is impossible to ensure such a level of salaries. “If it is impossible, then hand in your notice and leave. When the President sets a task, it must be fulfilled. Is this goal really achievable? Yet, it is. We just need to sell more of what we produce, and learn to make new goods. Sell and pay money to people,” Alexander Lukashenko said.

In some countries, the president noted, the rich have incomes dozens times that of the poorest. “Our rich people (it is good that we do not have any oligarchs): they holiday more during the year than they work. And if you look at how much this moneybag pays his workers. Just $350. So how can you holiday in the Seychelles or the Canary Islands and do not pay your workers? Therefore, this is not populism. This is the life of our people. No matter how difficult, still people understand the situation. But they should be paid adequately. I do not ask for a lot, just a salary of $500. We need to reach this goal, and then it will be up to people to work harder to earn more,” the president said.

Alexander Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that the country offers free education and healthcare, low-cost housing and utilities services and petrol (though there are no many oil fields in the country). Given these factors, this level of wage is acceptable. “I can instruct to pay $1,000 salaries tomorrow. But then people will have to pay for school, as they do in the West, and other things. So it is best we do not break the things we have. We’d rather improve them gradually,” the Belarusian leader said.

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