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Opinions & Interviews

24 Sep 2018

Wakeup call for Belarusian state-run food retailer Belkoopsoyuz

Wakeup call for Belarusian state-run food retailer Belkoopsoyuz

MINSK, 24 September (BelTA) – It is necessary to shake up the entire system of the Belarusian Republican Union of Consumer Societies (Belkoopsoyuz). Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko gave the relevant instructions as he met with Belkoopsoyuz Chairman of the Board Valery Ivanov, BelTA has learned.

The head of state said: “I’ve decided to arrange a government conference in February to discuss the situation in the consumer cooperatives system using this year’s performance. This is why I don’t want your report today. If you have any issues, which need to be addressed right now, I am ready to help. First of all, the entire system needs a shakeup. I don’t know much about your work to give an opinion. But the State Control Committee and other agencies have taken a look. The reports lean more towards negative than positive.”

Alexander Lukashenko remarked he is familiar with reports concerning Belkoopsoyuz’s development. “I have no reasons to mistrust those, who’ve verified the reports. I don’t want to exaggerate the information, its objectivity and precision. We will return to it in the future. The audit the consumer cooperatives system has passed and this year’s performance will be used to determine the place and role of consumer cooperatives in the modern world once and for all,” stressed the Belarus president.

“From the point of view of Belkoopsoyuz we’ve been fighting for a place in the sun against invading private retail chains – Euroopt, Korona, and other ones. There are now many good retailers like that, private and mobile ones,” said the Belarusian leader. “They are already moving into your turf. They are already moving into the countryside. They didn’t really want to in the past. Everyone wanted to operate in population centers. Now they are moving into the countryside. Moreover, I’ve instructed [the Korona retail chain owner Pavel] Topuzidis to make a system in Shklov District, which I know every well. Time will pass. You will tell me how he is doing. We will see how he has done things. It may be a good scheme that Belkoopsoyuz will have to recreate in other districts, too.”

Alexander Lukashenko noted that Belkoopsoyuz should pay more attention to work with the population, particularly by buying excessive fruits and vegetables. The head of state mentioned the high yield of apples in the country. “Apple trees in gardens of peasants are about to break. We’ve never seen such a harvest. Not everyone can keep the harvest in good condition or sell it somewhere. There are many people, more than half, who will not be able to take and sell their harvest on the market. You should buy these products right on the spot,” said the Belarusian leader. “But, certainly, you have to pay the price. I am told that purchasing prices are low, this is why peasants don’t want to sell.”

The president also drew attention to the number of personnel employed by Belkoopsoyuz in the regions. An enterprise needs an optimal number of personnel. In turn, personnel numbers have an effect on the overall performance. “You have to be competitive. If you are not, there is no sense in our keeping some enterprise afloat. Or, to be more precise, why does the enterprise want to do the functions it cannot do properly?” noted Alexander Lukashenko.

The head of state underlined that he is in favor of keeping the state-run retail chain running just like he was before. “It is time to look at it with open eyes. We should make up our minds about what we need from the consumer cooperatives system, what we don’t need, and what the system should be like in the future. We should make the decision in February,” said Alexander Lukashenko.

Alexander Lukashenko said he wanted Valery Ivanov to report the situation objectively. “I need an objective evaluation and objective recommendations, including from Belkoopsoyuz itself, about what it is going to do,” he noted.

In turn, the Belkoopsoyuz head said that an absolute majority of the instructions given by the head of state previously had been fulfilled. Work is in progress to address existing issues. On the whole, the state-run retail and procurement enterprise does its job well.

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