The forum brought together representatives of all strata of society, with heads, deputies and representatives of associations and parties acting as delegates, alongside factory and farm workers, soldiers, entrepreneurs, students and pensioners. Diplomats and foreign guests were also present.
The majority of speeches focused on solving problems. Semen Shapiro, the Chairman of Minsk Regional Executive Committee, proposed, “The National Bank and the Government should elaborate a monetary policy to facilitate the attraction of capital, not to bank deposits but into the national economy. We must stop the ‘transfer’ of resources from enterprises via banks to those currently investing money in deposits.”
The Director General of Minsk Tractor Works (MTZ), Fiodor Domotenko, notes that, this year, MTZ celebrates its 70th anniversary. It has made around four million units of machinery in this time, with around three million exported, to more than 120 countries. One in ten universal tractors worldwide bears the ‘Belarus’ trademark.
Valentin Baiko, an entrepreneur from Grodno, who heads Conte Spa, defies sceptics who berate our business conditions. The Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions, Mikhail Orda, spoke of protecting employment interests during this difficult economic period, while the Editor-in-Chief of Zvyazda Publishing Holding, Alexander Karlyukevich, pondered the role of the media in the life of society.
The President, who attended each day of the Belarusian People’s Congress, listened attentively to each delegate, helping with explanations or expressing his own position. Mr. Lukashenko noted having solved a range of problematic issues, having supported delegates’ proposals to improve the system of professional education and to consider issues of business loans and promoting healthy living into the public consciousness.
Many issues were raised in the sphere of professional training, with the President clearly expressing his point of view. He said, “We can lament as much as we like but we must train employees on-the-job. Not a single university, not a vocational training school, college or lyceum, can conduct all necessary training. It’s true everywhere around the world, that employees need additional training until they reach the necessary level of competence.”
Mr. Lukashenko has asked that all proposals raised at the All-Belarusian People’s Congress be analysed and answered. In his closing speech, he underlined, “This forum has clearly demonstrated that the rule of the people is the most important instrument in taking decisions in Belarus. I like your business determination to work and the simultaneously easy and friendly atmosphere of this congress. We’ve already approved a long-term strategy for the country’s development and have adopted programme documents for the coming five years, while elaborating major guidelines for the country’s innovative renewal and economic modernisation, taking into account new world trends.” The President also thanked everyone responsible for the organization and conduct of the forum.
At the end of the event, former submariner, Captain 1st rank Nikolay Yegorov, noted, “I’ve crossed four oceans and 25 seas, having seen and experienced a great deal. I have complete admiration for what I’ve heard at the Belarusian People’s Congress. I see that we will survive current difficulties. We just need to tighten our belts for a while, as they say. Naval practice shows that any power ends sooner or later, so all problems will disappear.”
The address of participants of the 5th All-Belarusian People’s Congress echoed this: ‘We’re a nation, strong in spirit, and we’ll cope with any difficulties on the way to achieving dynamic development of our beloved Belarus.’
The restoration and provision of further sustainable economic growth as a basis for successful life for future generations were determined in the resolution of the 5th Belarusian People’s Congress as a key task for the coming five-year term. The resolution will be submitted to the President for consideration and for the adoption of necessary decisions.
Georgy Grits, Deputy Chairman of the Belarusian Scientific and Industrial Association:
The speech of the Head of the State was traditionally strategic and broad ranging. At the same time, it seemed quite different from previous speeches. It’s a kind of flow chart. If you break down the speech into quotes, they can be regarded as guidelines to action. Of course, accomplishment of such ambitious tasks challenging the country demands the consolidation of society, business, and the Government. Without common goals and criteria for leaders, it’s impossible to achieve this consolidation.
Konstantin Shebeko, Doctor of Economics:
Humanity, including Belarus, is facing the serious challenge of global technology transfer. Not everybody understands this yet but, in general, we already live in a new reality. In this situation, we have two options: either we, as a country, find an adequate response to this challenge, allowing us to be among those who move to the next stage; or we lose this chance. This is the price to be paid, and what we have discussed, including at this forum, are the priorities of education and those of the wider economy. This is our response to the challenge. The most important thing is the implementation of our agenda: how far we participate in the process actively and effectively.
Anatoly Bashmakov, Doctor of Economics:
Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia make up the core of the major economic formation: the EEU. Together, we have enormous opportunities. However, at the present time, economic cooperation needs to be filled with humanitarian content. We are very close historically, mentally and morally.
Tatiana Sadovskaya, Candidate of Economic Sciences:
It is important not to turn payment for labour into a simple welfare payment, which does not depend on the employee`s contribution. We need rigorous application of state obligations in the field of social objectives, the achievement of greater social equality, justice and prosperity. Health care, education, culture and social support systems should be built around families and individuals. At the same time, we need to nourish the idea that the state is not the giver, but is a partner providing facilities for the well-being of citizens. State strategy should be built upon social protection and social progress.
Alexander Mukha, Analyst:
We must underline the importance of financial stability. We’re taking steps to reduce inflation: a strategic direction for the coming five years. By 2020, we aim to set this at no more than 5 percent per annum. The amount of money in the economy should correspond to the volume of the market for goods and services. Moreover, low and predictable inflation fulfils the interests of all national economic entities: enterprises, the public and the state — as well as the interests of foreign investors, who will be injecting into our country more actively.
By Vladimir Khromov