Time for persuasion over

Another break in the schedule of wood processing enterprises’ modernisation would entail serious problems for people responsible
By Victor Khmelevsky

A Presidential meeting, focusing on Bellesbumprom Concern’s work, was scheduled for Vitebskdrev JSC premises. Most of the modernisation was supposed to be finished there by last December but, as of late January this year, the enterprise is still unready to accept visitors. As a result, a meeting took place in Minsk, and a line was drawn under all previous talks. From now on, all failed promises and unrealised orders of the President will be severely punished. There are legal grounds for such measures to be taken if necessary.

The wood processing industry is receiving much attention, which is well explained. So far, the issue has been discussed many times, but it can never be too many. The economic modernisation relies on this, and diversification is vital. It is necessary to increase the plant’s export potential, while efficiently using our own raw materials and other resources. Such a model minimises the dependence of the economy on external factors, which creates grounds for the national security and the strengthening of the state. Accordingly, a seemingly economic project entails political aspects.

At the beginning of the meeting, the President reminded everyone that the talk was planned during the appointment of Bellesbumprom’s new Chairman, Yuri Nazarov. He had to share his own view about a solution to the existing system problems of the branch, while offering ways for its further development. While addressing those present, Alexander Lukashenko asked several questions. What measures are being taken to facilitate modernisation of the branch and ensure its designed capacities? How much would the depth of raw material processing increase, and would more high value products be produced? What would be the economic effect and most important results of the modernisation and would these ensure increased production volumes and enhanced quality? Are the issues of the sales market for ready products settled? Is the export radius growing and are new partners being searched for? How are the needs of the domestic and foreign markets taken into account? What is to be done to improve the operation of Belarus’ own trading network and branded stores, while applying new forms of trade? What steps are being made to improve the company’s financial state and their loan repayments?

The Chairman of the State Control Committee, Alexander Yakobson, informed those attended about the systematic failures in the modernisation process and his speech echoed much contained in Mr. Nazarov’s report. The latter listed measures that were vital to eradicating the evident problems, while proposing ways to optimise the delivery of raw materials to enterprises (which need floating assets). He also stressed the importance of mastering new promising markets in Russia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Chairmen from the regional executive committees and factory directors also shared their views, while the speech of Ivatsevichdrev JSC’s Director General, Cheslav Shulga, was truly impressive. In the past, he had headed Bellesbumprom Concern but was then sent to Ivatsevichi to correct the mistakes of the former heads. So far, Ivatsevichdrev is the only company of group which has fulfilled the modernisation project, albeit with a delay. The results are already evident — profits have doubled. Moreover, despite a reduction in staff, economic efficiency has increased. With this in mind, Mr. Shulga is considering modernisation of the old facilities and the achieved results are a good impetus.

The President had no serious objections regarding Mr. Nazarov’s plan, but paid attention to a key aspect, and all former heads of the Concern had similar views. Guarantees are needed to ensure the plan comes to fruition. Mr. Nazarov assured the President that intensive labour would be the best guarantee. Motivation is also vital and material benefits are evident at Ivatsevichdrev’s example. Responsibility for the failure should be also made clear as well. With this in mind, the President ordered the preparation of a draft act which would specify the deadlines of all modernisation work but that these dates should not be invented anew. Those defined last year by the regional and Governmental heads must be applied, keeping to the ‘late 2014’ deadline. In addition, the new document is to envisage a criminal liability for the failure to meet the plan. According to the President, this would affect anyone, including company and regional heads and the Prime Minister.

The situation at Vitebskdrev would receive its principal assessment and, addressing the Head of the Presidential Administration, Andrei Kobyakov, Mr. Lukashenko ordered, “Invite the Prosecutor General and order him, as part of a criminal case, to study all related issues and calculate losses. There is no need to co-ordinate this matter with me.”
Evidently, the modernisation of the wood processing group acquires tough yet necessary action.
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