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27 Dec 2016

Lukashenko wants FEZs to be more efficient

MINSK, 27 December (BelTA) – Belarusian free economic zones (FEZs) should be more efficient, Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko said at the session to discuss the operation and development of free economic zones on 27 December, BelTA has learned.

“What does the state get from the operation of these free economic zones?” Alexander Lukashenko asked. “I mean our Belarusian state, not a banana republic where it is a blessing to involve a person in a certain business activity,” he added.

The President remarked that FEZ resident companies transferred slightly more than $200 million to the budget in 2016. “But I was especially surprised by the salaries in the free economic zones where the companies are not poor. The directors of these companies are not poor either. The salaries there are about $350 in equivalent. What is that supposed to mean? It means that the heads of these companies just pay as much as the country’s average salary and feel well,” the head of state said.

“So, they bring as little as $200 million to the budget and pay low salaries to people. Therefore, I want to know if it makes sense to fight for these free economic zones at all levels,” Alexander Lukashenko added.

He noted that when the documents on free economic zones were submitted for the first time there was an idea to create conditions similar to those in the FEZs all over Belarus. “The idea was to provide equal conditions to all enterprises,” the President said. “Back then I decided in favor of providing privileges, creating and supporting the zones because I thought that the resident companies will bring foreign currency to Belarus, and that we will never have problems with the Belarusian ruble exchange rate. What did we get from the operation of FEZs over the years?”

Alexander Lukashenko stressed that the current inflow of investments is too low. “We have discussed the investments a lot, but this year, as we can see, the inflow of investments in free economic zones has been close to zero,” he said.

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