Reform is obviously essential

Two decades of agro-industrial progress, but path far from smooth

Two decades of agro-industrial progress, but path far from smooth


Dozens of billions of Dollars have been invested in the agro-industrial branch, with relevant legislation adopted. Now, although agrarians are generating about $7 billion annually from sale of foodstuffs, various problems remain, including some unprofitable enterprises and those ‘walking the line’.


Path towards harvest difficult

In his recent Address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly, President Lukashenko noted that the agricultural branch requires a new approach to development, working on principles of self-sufficiency. He declared that state support is to be reduced, with competitive selection playing a greater role in allocation of funding. However, enterprises will be given equal access to loans. The guiding principle will be the need for responsibility and the meeting of goals.

Reform of agriculture is to continue, with the President holding several meetings at which he will be strict in requiring the Government to set out a strategic action plan. The Permanent Commission on Agrarian Policy (of the House of Representatives of the National Assembly) has set out a path of orientation, as Chairman Victor Shchetko explains.

Primarily, a system of control is needed for agricultural organisations, via advisory centres set up within district executive committees. This will allow owners of enterprises more freedom; moreover, conditions should be created for efficient work of security market, including unimpeded redemption of shares.

Mr. Shchetko notes, “We’ve long spoken of the need to eliminate disparity in prices, approving certain costs for production in the spheres of agriculture, industry and energy. Cost-efficient work is impossible without such guidelines.”

State support and high interest rates on loans continue to be problematic but the Permanent Commission plans to direct at least half of the loans available towards manufacturers, to allow prices to be maintained (most especially for meat and milk). Meanwhile, state support should not exceed 10 percent of the gross value of goods. Restructuring is possible for inefficient agricultural organisations with debt, and private ownership is to be encouraged across production spheres (though not the privatisation of land). Following the experience of states with advanced levels of agriculture, Belarus may gain a working body to establish purchasing prices for all processors.

It is still unknown which route will be accepted but one thing is obvious: our agricultural sphere must be reformed, and soon.

By Alexander Pimenov
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