Good reason for meetings, or how particular endeavours and results determine prospects
President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, takes part in Gomel ceremonial opening of Gomel-Minsk-Gomel regular electric train route, during intensive tour of regional centre
Alexander Lukashenko familiarises with model of children’s hospital
Workers and veterans of Belarusian Railways, as well as students of transport educational institutions, attended the launch of the Gomel-Minsk-Gomel regular electric train route. The Head of Belarusian Railways, Vladimir Morozov, was granted the President’s permission to open a regular rail route in this direction, allowing the first electric powered cargo train to depart from Gomel’s railway station.
The Head of State heard about progress in electrifying the Osipovichi-Gomel line, and the final stage of the Minsk-Gomel railway electrification project. The President was shown the latest Stadler-made rolling stock using electric traction and an electric locomotive, made in China.
The Minsk-Gomel railway section has been electrified in stages, with the first (Minsk-Osipovichi) completed in 1983. The Osipovichi-Zhlobin section launched in September 2013, and the Zhlobin-Gomel section in December 2015. New technical solutions have been employed in the process of electrification, including the local substitution of imported materials, works, and services. Moreover, track maintenance infrastructure, signalling and communication devices have been modernised, reducing travel times: for passenger trains by 1 hour 12 minutes; and for cargo trains by 35 minutes.
“It’s a pleasure for me to meet you. I appreciate the work of railway personnel,” noted Mr. Lukashenko, addressing railway station employees. He added, “Very strong people are working here. I’m glad that young people are also willing to work in railway departments.”
The President chatted warmly with the residents of Gomel in the railway station square, noting, “Wherever I go and whatever I do, I’ve always said that people are the main asset of our country.”
Along Gomel-Minsk-Gomel route
Mr. Lukashenko doesn’t regret his decision to take confectionery factories Spartak and Kommunarka under state control, as he commented on meeting personnel at Spartak. He underlined, “I don’t regret the decisions I’ve made to place these enterprises again under state control. I primarily proceeded from the interests of the state rather than those of private-ownership. These enterprises should belong to the state. If they don’t, they should be at least fully state controlled, and operated by the state.”
Over the years that have passed since Spartak shifted to state control, much has been achieved regarding renovation and modernisation of the enterprise, raising its competitiveness. The President toured the facility, to see its new technological processes and upgraded equipment, and viewed Spartak’s exhibition.
“Today, I’ve seen what I wanted to see,” he noted. “You’re working very well and are doing the right thing. You’ve modernised a great deal and will continue to do so. We’ll do our best to help you, using national and regional budgetary funds,” said the Head of State.
Investments in the confectionery factory have increased in recent years. Over the past three years, more than 97 percent of investments have been used to renovate and modernise major premises. Meanwhile, major sources of investment have been the company’s own funds and bank loans.
Besides expanding domestic deliveries, Spartak is also developing a network of branded shops and is boosting exports. In 2015-2016, the factory signed export contracts with such countries as China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, Singapore, Australia, Lebanon, and Canada. Spartak products also sell well in Russia, the Czech Republic, Israel, the USA, Ukraine and many other states. The President has been assured that, in 2-3 years, Spartak will rival the level of the best confectionery factories in Europe.
A happy journey!
Speaking about opportunities for state financing of the development of infrastructure and construction of social facilities, Mr. Lukashenko underlined that taxes paid by enterprises who are profitable help to fund this. “We’ve been somewhat shaken and the word ‘crisis’ is on people’s lips but, truly, there isn’t any crisis, only instability. It’s bad that this is happening on our traditional markets and on those of our brother Russians and Ukrainians. This instability does affect us,” noted Mr. Lukashenko. “If your enterprise will work, alongside others, in the usual way, we’ll generate enough funds to pay for everything. We don’t squander money and don’t steal it, which would be a terrible crime. The media reports that those who take what doesn’t belong to them either have to repay in excess or spend 15 years in prison.”
The Head of State recently signed a decree to establish the Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade Ministry. He explained that the decision is necessitated by the results of social polls, among other factors. Social polls indicate that prices represent an area of concern for Belarusians. “I have to respond, so we’re going to keep prices in check, regardless of how upsetting pro-market Belarusians. We won’t apply excessive pressure though,” stated Mr. Lukashenko.
The President admits the possibility that prices may rise naturally in response to higher revenues and rising demand from the population. However, the Government will keep an eye on all relevant processes. “Our job is to control money,” stressed Mr. Lukashenko.
He has instructed that a new regional hospital for children in Gomel be completed within two years and be fitted with the latest equipment, as noted during his visit to the construction site. “We’ve agreed that it will be a state-of-the-art hospital. We have to take good care of children, so the equipment must be top notch,” he stressed.
Regarding the central state budget, and city and regional budgets, he notes that businessmen and philanthropists should also contribute. He stresses, “I’m ready to give away my own salary. It’s necessary to collect little by little in order to make a project of national importance. The central state budget alone is not to be exclusively relied upon,” said Mr. Lukashenko. A nationwide subbotnik (a voluntary labour day) will be used to help save state funds, with the new hospital as a focus.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
We’ve agreed that it will be a state-of-the-art hospital. We have to take good care of children, so the equipment must be top notch. I’m ready to give away my own salary. It’s necessary to collect little by little in order to make a project of national importance. The central state budget alone is not to be exclusively relied upon.
By Vasily Kharitonov
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