Belarus President says no mass privatization in sight

Belarus President says no mass privatization in sight

The President of Belarus demands a good start from the renewed Government from the first days. The Head of State said this on December 29, presenting to the government new Prime Minister Andrei Kobyakov. Mr Lukashenko said he expects the Government will ensure the normal operation of enterprises, increase export and seek new trading partners. Special attention should be paid to the Belarusian consumer market.

There was no emergency in the December 27 appointments. The President hinted more than once that some government officials underperformed and failed to fulfill the main tasks of the economic development. 

Many of the leaders already have experience of work in the Government. Andrei Kobyakov, who became head of the Council of Ministers (the Government) served ten years as Deputy Prime Minister. He was head of Belarus' diplomatic mission in Russia, and headed the Presidential Administration for the last three years.

Alexander Lukashenko said about what he awaits from the new economic staff.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President: 
The renewed government should show a good start from the first days of their work. We see the complicated situation in the world and our economy, unfortunately, is very dependent on external markets. At the same time we have enough internal problems, among which is elementary carelessness and sloppiness that affect the technological discipline. Therefore, we must first of all restore order at home in order to minimize the negative impact on us from outside.

The currencies of Belarus main trading partners - the Russian ruble, the Ukrainian hryvnia and the Kazakhstani tenge fell sharply. Belarus needs to do everything to ensure that state-owned companies operate well in these difficult conditions and that unemployment does not go up. It is important to keep labor collectives. At the beginning of December, the Belarus President signed decree number five, which set stricter requirements for staff and managers.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President: 
Never before had managers so much authority that they have today. Heads of companies have been given the tools needed to solve any problem in a short time. They should move themselves and make money, and the task of the government is to organize and control it all. Replacement of heads of enterprises will continue. I emphasize particularly that one will not be able to sit and do nothing as a company chairman. Slackness is dangerous. If you feel that you cannot continue to work, it is better to step aside.

Export issues have a primary importance. After all, sales abroad secure foreign currency earnings. Diplomats have been tasked with finding new trading partners. They should become a lifesaver for the directorate.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
You cannot be dependent on only one or one and a half markets. Yes, Russia are our brothers, our friends, but you can see how they behave sometimes. One hand does not know what the other does. Therefore, we need to diversify export. You will be held accountable for failing to fulfill the task in this area.

The head of state also reminded that the trend towards price control remains in place.

According to the President, strong and experienced people came to work for the Government. They are expected to come up with breakthrough ideas. The economic staff must work effectively. The President makes a bet on the tandem of experienced financiers. These are National Bank head Pavel Kallaur and Deputy Prime Minister Vasily Matyushevsky. By the way, it is Mr Matyushevsky who will be responsible for Belarus' integration into the Eurasian Economic Union.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I expect a good return from the work of the financial and economic block of our government. But just a warning: do not talk about privatization. First of all, you need to seriously work on improving the efficiency of the public sector. Thank God that we have kept the state property. During the crisis, this is our safety cushion. We must keep labor collectives, people should be employed. We have seen that crises come and go. The company that keeps staff can take free niches in the new markets and work effectively. Therefore, it is not necessary to destroy state ownership artificially.

Natalia Kochanova from Novopolotsk is the first woman in the history of Belarus to have been appointed deputy prime minister. She is now in charge of the social sphere.

Vladimir Semashko will continue to oversee issues of industry and energy. Mikhail Rusyi is responsible for the agricultural sector. The President wants him to work tighter to increase food supplies abroad.

Construction and housing is the area of responsibility of Anatoly Kalinin.  

The head of state formulated a simple formula for the Government. The minister becomes the main person in the industry. Deputy Prime Ministers determine action strategy dealing with export and controlling work. In 2015, he expects more concrete actions on the part of the government and fewer unnecessary meetings. In 2015, the government will have to sit "a real exam" and be accountable to the people for achievements.

After the meeting, the President gave the official ID to the new Prime Minister of Belarus.

According to Mr Kobyakov, the government will have to resolve tough problems and challenges. They include the balancing of the foreign exchange market as well as export issues. In the next 2 months, the government will be engaged in operational matters.

Andrei Kobyakov, the Prime Minister of the Republic of Belarus:
It is possible to achieve social and economic development projections only on the basis of the export-oriented growth model, accelerated development of services, reduction of the cost of facilities and multi-channel investment.

The President thanked the now ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Myasnikovich for the diligent work. He will continue to work in the parliament - he will chair the Council of the Republic, the upper chamber of the parliament. Mikhail Myasnikovich asked not to be offended by tough decisions that he sometimes had to adopt and encouraged the renewed government to focus on quality, whatever they do.

The President wished the government officials happy New Year. 

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I do not hope, I am sure that we will succeed. Even if someone does not want this to happen. 
Each of us have children and grandchildren, and they need to live on this earth.

The President of Belarus also answered journalists' questions after the government meeting.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
Forming the Government, I focused on the economy. Once upon a time, letting Matyushevsky and Kallaur go from the National Bank, I still knew that we would need them in the future. So it's time. These people have experience. Experience in Russian banks. Frankly, those Russian banks are two of the best banks of Russia, these are world-class banks. This experience is extremely important for us today.
As for the governors, it is important that people do not stay long in office.  It must replace them from time to time. 

The format of the Belarus-Russia Union State has not exhausted itself. There are no plans to close joint projects.  Alexander Lukashenko spoke about the recent talks with Vladimir Putin.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
It was a cruel conversation between two men, where we spoke openly about the reasons of prohibiting the supply of products. Why do it? He interrupts me and says, 'Listen, I did not do it. Understand me. Prices of these products grew in Russia and I saw it. How could I instruct someone to prohibit the delivery of Belarusian goods, especially those products for which prices are rising?' I say: 'I do not know how. These are your problems. But they were still banned.' This is not the first such discussion. This does not mean that we have some kind of antagonism. We're just friends and we can tell each other openly what problems we have.
Of course, there are different currents, different people in Russia. They imposed the embargo, for example. Embargo is in fact Russian ban on the supply of certain products from individual countries. But you can see that it did not work properly. And it could not work, because Russia imports more than half of products. What embargo are we talking about here? This was done to the detriment of his own country. Someone still suggested it. And we must be responsible for that.  We are still friends but we decided. Maybe we cannot guarantee that this will not happen again. This is not a fairy tale. There will certainly be controversial situations in the future because there is interest from their producers of milk, meat and other grains. They have their own interests. They consider Belarus primary rivals. Arch rivals. They cannot compete with us either in terms of quality or price or our organization. Therefore they use administrative, sometimes bandit methods. We are ready for this, we have seen many things.

The President of Belarus commented on speculations by some media about the alleged intention to use the Belarusian troops as peacekeepers.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
Our tabloids read that Lukashenko wants to send our servicemen somewhere and so on. If our troops go somewhere as peacekeepers, I will be the first to go there, so that they know. And my eldest son, who is engaged in these issues today, will be there too. And you know, I'm still not going to send anyone anywhere. And I am already criticized.
But this conflict is near us.  If we do not want the same conflict at home, we should try to do our best to quell the conflict. Or maybe eliminate it. And if we can do that, we will do, I can tell you this as commander in chief.  If we are asked, we will do it. Do not ask. We will decide ourselves.

Alexander Lukashenko commented on the fact that some media include him in the ratings of the most popular politicians.   

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
You know, I do not care. It's nice to hear that someone finally saw Lukashenko out there. And that they refer to him not as a dictator but as a normal person. I ended up with Angela Merkel "in one basket," I am pleased. She is not very fond of the Belarus President and suddenly we end up in this situation.  Do not pay so much attention to it. But thanks to the people who saw us. This benefits Belarus, first of all.

Alexander Lukashenko admitted that for him the new year is a reason to help those in need, not only a noisy feast.     

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
I will celebrate the New Year with the kids. He does not sleep at this time. He likes to watch all those New Year's TV programs. This is not the main thing for me. The main thing for me are children and the elderly.