Major tasks of priority

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expects new Government to come forward with fresh ideas, sustaining balanced economic growth and enhancing people’s wellbeing

President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expects new Government to come forward with fresh ideas, sustaining balanced economic growth and enhancing people’s wellbeing
President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko expects new Government to come forward with fresh ideas, sustaining balanced economic growth and enhancing people’s wellbeing

While introducing the new Prime Minister, Andrei Kobyakov, to MPs at the sixth special session of the National Assembly’s House of Representatives, the President noted that he has tasked the Government with elaborating a 2016-2020 socio-economic development programme. Mr. Lukashenko stressed that the major targets of economic policy remain unchanged. “The focus should be on developing human potential, encouraging business initiative and entrepreneurship, securing a foreign trade balance, promoting sustainable development of regions, building high-quality and affordable housing and maintaining food security,” he said, adding, “Nothing new is planned; we’ve tackled all these previously.”

Alexander Lukashenko takes part in session at National Assembly`s House of Representatives
Alexander Lukashenko takes part in session at National Assembly`s House of Representatives
Photo: BELTA

The Head of State reminded that, in H2 2014, Belarus encountered external challenges no one could have predicted early in the year. «Sanctions, counter-sanctions, a parade of devaluations of national currencies in neighbouring countries, a collapse in world oil prices, the war in Ukraine and some other negative factors were among them. Belarus’ open economy reacts painfully to such events,” he commented. Yet, it’s known how to respond. “The only recipes for economic stability involve reducing ‘costs’ expenditure and raising investment. No other recipes exist. With this in mind, enterprises should put issues of financial health to the fore.”

Mr. Lukashenko instructed the Government to consistently promote Eurasian integration, while focusing on defending national interests. “We need to work consistently at all levels to promote the equality of members within the Union — removing exemptions and restrictions to the freedom of movement of goods, works, services, capital and labour,” he stressed, adding that Belarus has begun the year as the first chair of the Eurasian Economic Union. “This is an honourable mission but it envisages hard work for us in developing Eurasian integration,” the President said. “We yet lack smoothly running mechanisms for the common market of the Eurasian Economic Union. Exemptions and restrictions are still in place. With this in mind, I ask the Government to consistently promote Eurasian integration while aggressively and attentively defending national interests. We should not miss potential opportunities and we should occupy lucrative market niches.”

The Head of State noted that Belarus will continue co-operating with Russia while seeking better relations with the USA and the EU (with whom Belarus’ trade is considerable). “Why should we refuse to co-operate with them? Our relations are different but we need to build them. The fact that Belarus is pursuing better relations with the USA and the EU should not worry anyone, either in Belarus or in Russia,” Mr. Lukashenko noted. Meanwhile, he said that he understood that foreign countries would be watching the presidential elections in Belarus. Mr. Lukashenko emphasised that the elections would be fair and held in accordance with the Constitution. “If people trust us, they will support us even in the most turbulent times. However, no such times will ever happen in Belarus. I can assure everyone: we’ll do everything possible to mitigate the consequences of troubles observed outside our territory — and which we haven’t created!” the President added.

Speaking of Belarusian-Russian relations, Mr. Lukashenko noted, “No one will replace Russia for us. When talking to the West, the EU, the USA or other states, we openly ask them if they would be able to replace Russia for us. No. Then why do they want to pull us away? In the example of brotherly Ukraine, we’ve already seen that the consequences can be very grave.”

The President underlined Belarus’ close historical and economic ties with Russia, saying, “Russia has always been ready to lend a shoulder to Belarus in difficult situations. However, certain minor problems have emerged sometimes.” He stressed that Belarus always voices its position openly and has never betrayed Russia.

A strong social policy, care for people, attention to youth issues, and the creation of comfortable social conditions remain major priorities for the Belarusian state. Mr. Lukashenko stressed that it’s not only necessary to stabilise the economic situation but to create conditions for sustainable development through raising labour productivity, the efficient use of state property, and the promotion of business activity and citizens’ initiatives.

He reminded that, this year, Belarus is applying new approaches to the provision of state support for the economy, with resources allocated solely to development priorities. “Our main principles include a competitive approach, equal access, a project payback period and responsibility for achieving stated parameters,” Mr. Lukashenko underlined.

The President stressed that the number one priority for all governmental agencies is the diversification of sales markets, since dependence on a single market makes the economy vulnerable. Mr. Lukashenko has demanded that the Government and the Foreign Ministry find new markets and create comfortable conditions for domestic companies operating outside of Belarus. Companies, in turn, should promptly respond to market trends and produce relevant products that generate real profits. “If we manage this, we will be protected in all circumstances,” the Head of State believes.

According to Mr. Lukashenko, in our modern uneasy times, we need to rely purely on ourselves. “It’s good if someone from outside can help us. However, we cannot count on the West, the East, Russia, Ukraine, or anyone else. We must use our own resources. All necessary conditions for this are available,” he said, noting that it’s essential to study the market situation and make prompt decisions.

The President deems it necessary to ramp up work on foreign markets, especially taking into account friendly relations with foreign states. “Belarus stands in high authority, with reliable friends in China, India, Iran, in Arab and African countries, and in Latin America. There has been certain progress in relations with the United States. Let’s use this advantage to promote the export of products which we cannot sell on traditional markets — namely Russia and Ukraine — due to existing trends,” he stressed.

By Vasily Kharitonov
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