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22 Nov 2019

Gradual evolution, privatization to help fix agriculture problems in Vitebsk Oblast

Gradual evolution, privatization to help fix agriculture problems in Vitebsk Oblast

VITEBSK, 22 November (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has hosted a government conference to discuss the development of agribusiness in Vitebsk Oblast where a number of substantial problems have been registered. Setting up a massive holding company was one of the solutions put forward during the meeting, however, the head of state turned down the proposal in favor of gradual evolution and skillful development of the existing integrated structures, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko was interested in every detail concerning results achieved by existing agricultural holding companies in Vitebsk Oblast, however, the conversation was primarily focused on ways to resolve the debt problem. The head of state attributed the poor state of affairs primarily to mismanagement and lack of care.

“Here is my decision: the holding companies you’ve set up will stay. I don’t mind if they grow larger with new agricultural enterprises. These enterprises will remain economically viable. If you earn more, you can keep it. If you earn less, there will be no consequences. I want organizational decisions, disciplinary decisions, or even prison time for those, who don’t work well. We will resolve the problem of debts. There will be no superstructures [on top of the existing holding companies]. None of that for now,” the president stressed.

The head of state said: “No superstructures. As for debts and the rest, even if we delay them, every year you will have to earn money with your sweat and blood and report some growth. It applies to Mogilev Oblast, Gomel Oblast, and the other ones. There will be no more easy money.”

Apart from that, Aleksandr Lukashenko suggested considering the possibility of privatizing and selling the agricultural enterprises that cannot work effectively on their own to investors. “It is necessary to privatize these agricultural enterprises. If they cannot work the way they are, we should start privatization. Make a list and post it on the website. Maybe some investor will want to buy them,” the Belarusian leader said.

“But primarily heads of the agricultural enterprises and heads of district administrations bear responsibility for everything. I want all the personnel matters regarding these integration structures addressed before the new year. I think we will have to meet in Minsk and make the final decision. But I want you to give me all the information before the decision has to be made. Recheck and verify things where necessary,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The head of state noted that on the basis of his own experience he knows that even loss-making agricultural enterprises can be turned around: “I know how it is necessary to work in such enterprises. If you have the will, you will get results. If you want to let things slide and stay out of office after lunch… Then there will be nothing. This is why get down to work.”

“Like I said, I need a clear-cut management structure before the new year. Distribute these enterprises and create zones to supply raw materials from. Don’t scare people with some holding companies. These are zones for supplying raw materials,” the head of state noted.

As an example of effective operation the head of state referred to Aleksandr Moshensky’s company. The head of state said: “Nobody is as advanced as he is. He never approaches me with requests that something needs to be established over there. He says he runs agricultural enterprises directly from the dairy plant. But no, you had to invent something,” the head of state referred to proposals on ways to fix things in Vitebsk Oblast. “He [Aleksandr Moshensky] cares for every person and takes care not to pay extra. But he pays well those he keeps. Nothing can be accomplished without a good salary.”

“This is why we will start from the bottom – the land. We need to keep state-run agricultural enterprises for now,” the Belarusian leader stressed. “Keep in mind the social base – community centers, shops, schools… Are you going to manage them from Vitebsk? This is why keep these state-run agricultural enterprises with their territory, organization, and settlement accounts the way they are now. An integration structure should be on top – we are talking about the zones that supply raw milk and meat. They should work for your benefit. We are not going to scrap raw materials zones,” the president added.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also stressed that district administrations should wield their power and perform functions in line with the legislation: “They are in charge of controlling the personnel policy, the way things are organized, the social sphere, ideology, elections, and the rest. They have a lot on their plate. They won’t mind if someone else – your integration structure – helps the agricultural enterprises operate. But they are still in charge. If someone, including the oblast governor, tries to curtail their power, he will get a slap on the wrist.”

“If we unbalance the management of the country, nobody will need any structures,” the Belarusian leader pointed out.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also talked about the latest elections to the Belarusian parliament. He mentioned that citizens in Vitebsk Oblast had voted heavily in favor of government-sponsored candidates. “We have excellent people. People in Vitebsk Oblast cast their votes mostly for the candidates we had asked them to vote for. What else can we ask of these people? Let’s treat them nicely!” the Belarusian leader stated.

Once again Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized the importance of maintaining discipline and order: “We cannot afford slackness anymore or we will lose the country!”

Speaking about agriculture in Vitebsk Oblast, Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked that it is possible to feed the country and secure export without it and there is no big problem. “But I wouldn’t like to lose Vitebsk Oblast because it is dear to me. Get things fixed. We should review the matter in January at the latest,” the head of state said.

The president urged to start with salaries of blue-collar workers so that people could live well more or less and feed their families: “Pay people and specialists well and you will get results.”

“We can no longer follow old ways,” the Belarusian leader concluded.

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