Private business activity aspires to common benefit

Alexander Lukashenko visits two companies founded using foreign capital — a plant manufacturing globally known Ceresit construction materials and another producing parquet flooring — to discuss business conditions with their heads

By Kirill Slavinsky

In two decades of Belarus’ independence, serious national business has been established in the country. The advantages of private ownership are evident, with the state being interested in further strengthening and developing this sector. Mr. Lukashenko is orienting local authorities towards attracting investments and establishing new production facilities. His recent working trip demonstrates the importance of this move for the country.

Henkel transnational corporation has gained a strong foothold on the Belarusian construction market, starting operations in the mid-2000s, with Henkel Bautechnik launched near Minsk to produce building glue and primer. General Director Sergey Novitsky admits that they virtually ‘had to lead the foreign investor by the hand’ but practice shows that no one has suffered as a result of this co-operation.

The market is receiving good quality domestic production, at ‘value for money’ prices, with local raw materials primarily used: Belarusian sand, cement, lime and plaster. These allow prices to be kept 15-20 percent lower (in comparison to foreign analogues).

“The country and the economy face the task of modernising industrial facilities to use domestic raw materials,” reminded Mr. Lukashenko. The second facility visited by the President was Coswick Hardwood Flooring Factory. It uses Belarusian oak and ash to produce elite parquet, following Canadian technologies. Most of its goods are exported, with no problems arising regarding urrency.

The President believes that capital could work harder in the country. The positive examples of these two companies show that business can prosper. In recent years, a range of legislation has been passed to support entrepreneurship. After talking to the heads of the plants, Mr. Lukashenko noted that more freedom should be granted to company heads in their management of staff. “I’m very seriously pondering how best to modernise the Council for Entrepreneurship,” noted Mr. Lukashenko, adding, “I had hopes that businessmen would directly address me with proposals, including those dealing with the improvement of legislation and the tax sphere. However, nothing of the kind has happened. This year, we need to consider how best to add momentum to this sphere, to gain feedback from the entrepreneurial community. Businessmen should voice their own views on issues affecting their development, giving us alternatives to the official view.”

State and private business are partners. When Mr. Novitsky was asked: ‘What do you expect from the near future?’ he immediately replied, “We expect the overall development of our country. If successful, it will bring prosperity to us also.”

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