Everything has its value

Mr. Lukashenko has urged that state-owned commercial entities be run efficiently, with proper rents charged. He is keen to see an end to loopholes which allow subletting agents to make money unfairly from state property, with all such leases auctioned publicly. The situation is highlighted by the fact that commercial, privately owned properties are being rented at much higher prices than those owned by the state. Read more in Capital means much but not everything (p. 4). 
By Victor Kharkov

For many years, the Government has been trying to promote investment in the Belarusian economy, stressing our Single Economic Space prospects, our educated, relatively inexpensive labour force, high technological level and government support (including tax breaks). For many years now, Russian companies have been our major investors, accounting for almost half of all injected funds. Those from the UK are placed second (25 percent), followed by investors from Cyprus (6.4 percent) and Austria (4 percent). 

Meanwhile, investments into CIS states are arriving through offshore schemes, as the Eurasian Development Bank notes. Cyprians and Dominicans are often major foreign investors within the post-Soviet space. 

Over the past few years, Belarus has failed to meet its targets for incoming direct foreign investments, despite signing over 60 bilateral agreements with other states to avoid double taxation — and the same number on the mutual protection of investments. Moreover, our country is now a fully-fledged member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and investors’ interests are protected by the Investment Codex. Last year, Belarus adopted a FDI attraction strategy for the period until 2015, which the Government believes will improve the situation. 

Regardless of the popularity of the i-phone, i-Pad, Kindle and similar electronic gadgets, books remain a huge part of our culture, as was evident at the recent 20th Minsk International Book Fair. From grand, illustrated volumes to simple paperbacks, the event provided clear evidence of our passion for reading and the pleasures of page turning. Each edition was lovingly handled. Without exaggeration, each page, paragraph and, even, sentence was lovingly consumed! 

Few would argue that the younger generation are in thrall to computer games, sometimes behaving like mindless robots, playing ceaselessly day and night. However, I’m happy to report that plenty of Belarusians still adore the printed word. Moreover, our Belarusian publishing houses are producing high level editions. Belarus was not lost among the 25 countries which took part in the forum. Find out more in Folios, bestsellers and other books on display.
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