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17 Mar 2020

Belarus president’s meeting with Council of Ministers over after nearly five hours

Belarus president’s meeting with Council of Ministers over after nearly five hours

MINSK, 17 March (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko hosted a government conference on 17 March to discuss results of the country’s social and economic development in 2019 and evaluate results of the five-year term. The conference lasted for nearly five hours. Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Valery Belsky talked to reporters after the conference to reveal what main topics had been discussed and what the conference had achieved, BelTA has learned.

Virtually the entire Belarusian government, top parliamentarians and top officials of the Belarus President Administration, oblast governors– about 50 officials in total – turned up in the Palace of Independence for the conference.

In his words, the discussion was very focused on specific subjects, results of the country’s social and economic development were discussed in detail. Evaluating the current government’s performance was one of the goals of the conference. “I’d say the conversation was tough since not all the intended economic growth targets had been hit,” Valery Belsky noted. This is why the head of state stressed that the performance of the government and the central bank cannot be described as satisfactory. The head of state said he would like the central bank to work more for the benefit of the country’s economy as a whole.

Close attention during the conference was paid to the state of affairs in the industrial sector. “Neither the head of state nor the Belarus President Administration is satisfied with the current state of affairs in this segment of our economy,” Valery Belsky stressed.

It is obvious that new challenges to the economy emerge every day. The situation is complicated by the unstable oil market and accompanying actions of some countries. “We’ve faced certain pressure on an important market for us – the market of energy resources, the market of oil products. Not all the problems have been addressed so far. But measures are being taken and they produce an effect,” the deputy head of the Belarus President Administration noted.

In his words, the slump in oil prices will undoubtedly have an effect on the key market for Belarus – the Russian Federation. “The falling oil prices represent a serious blow to the economic stability of Russia. Despite all the assurances we understand that the price of less than $30 [per barrel] is not the most favorable scenario. The purchasing capacity of consumers of our products on the traditional market is obviously going to change and certainly it won’t go up,” he stated.

The president gave instructions to prevent a decrease in output and an increase in stock in storage in these conditions. He said he wanted the government to pinpoint and deal with problems at enterprises.

The matter of export and import substitution was also discussed. The head of state wants the government to follow a certain scheme: the prime minister and deputy prime ministers should do their best in the areas of activity they have been assigned in order to facilitate sales of Belarusian products outside the country while ministers, oblast governors, and representatives of municipal authorities should dive into import substitution matters.

The need to tap into the unused potential of the civil engineering industry was also mentioned. This economic branch is capable of becoming an engine of economic growth. “The head of state made additional decisions to accelerate the development of the civil engineering industry, primarily housing construction,” Valery Belsky said. Concrete examples of how the issue had been resolved in various regions were cited during the conference. Instructions were given to spread the cutting-edge practices onto the entire country. The need to improve the quality of construction and repair work was emphasized. Unfortunately, there are still many examples of this work being done poorly. This is why the head of state promised a crackdown on the problem soon.

Apart from that, the head of state was interested in details of construction and reconstruction of roads, including the M6 motorway in Grodno Oblast, which the head of state intends to take a look at personally.

Agriculture was another important matter raised during the conference. Attention was drawn to taking measures to prevent the loss of cattle and to ensure timely forage harvesting.

The head of state made it clear that high quality of products and services must be ensured in all spheres.

Valery Belsky explained that indicators of the country’s development in the five-year term had not been discussed in detail during the conference. Although the government has put together the basics of the program on social and economic development till 2025. In his words, the suggested document does not contain solutions as to how the factors that interfere with fast economic growth should be removed. The matter will be discussed at a dedicated government conference.

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