The standard of living in Belarus should grow. This was discussed October 20 at a meeting on topical issues of development of the country held by the President. The focus was on economic growth, labor protection of citizens, the retirement age and the state's responsibility.
Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
The society is waiting. I would say, there is a critical mass of expectations. And we have to meet those expectations. The main point is that living standards should grow. All of you have to give people work and demand productivity.
Regarding your proposals, for example, to reduce the number of employees in the MTZ, MAZ, somewhere else, in industry, in agriculture... We will talk about this too, later. But any economist, even those that we are sitting in the Government, who in their offices, open the statistics and tell me share of salaries in total expenditures. Very small. So what do you get from this reduction? Almost no effect. You will "slice people to pieces" and get the opposite effect. And if we do have to reduce staff at some enterprises then give these people another job. In a company across the street, maybe a little further. That would be a responsible attitude to people. We cannot throw people out on the street. This is criminal liability.
The second example is the retirement age. You sat we need to take this decision. When you are presidents, you will take it. If we take these decisions... These measures are just, correct, I talked about this back in the pre-election period that the retirement age should be raised. But people do not want it, which is why we have these tiny pensions. This issue should be resolved, but not at the expense of people. We will consult with them, we will convince them, we will ask for their consent. We will tell them about it and ask for support. If they agree, we will do it. But no means no. We always write "The state for the people." So let people decide.
Discussing the possible parameters of socio-economic development in the future, there were raised questions of reform, optimization of the size of the state apparatus and a decent level of salaries in the country.
Some say: "There is credibility and it is necessary to carry out unpopular measures. And very quickly." In other words, they say it is necessary to quickly take people aback. When you are presidents will you will do what you want. I don't have any intention of doing so. And if you want to take someone aback, let's start with you. Here, in this room, there are not many such people. Let's make this experiment until early next year. If they survive this, then we will apply this experience to the people. I am not going to deceive people. This does not mean that we stop and freeze. The system only has the ability to live and survive if it is constantly in motion and is improving. We have enough forces and resources in order not to stop and to improve. And this is the essence of our reforms.
Each of you in your program has to offer me (if you want to work) the streamlining of the structure you'll manage. This means downsizing. But first of all, this goes for the government. Let's start with ourselves. And then let's go to the people and tell them that there is excessive number of workers somewhere and talk about retirement age. Salaries must be increased by optimizing staff numbers at government agencies. There must be no such salaries in this country by the end of next year, 2016. I repeat: there must not be such a level of salaries in the country by the end of next year. This is the main goal of our work.
Much attention was paid to the production and marketing of domestic products abroad, executive discipline, effectiveness of managers. In fact, the head of state voiced what principles the national economy should be guided by in the coming five years.
Again, I ask you at this time of crisis to determine where each tractor, car, every kilogram of meat and milk will be sold and who is responsible for it and who will control it all - on a quarterly basis. Some items will be controlled monthly. The answer to the problem is simple: it is necessary to produce as much as possible and sell at the maximum price. Return money into the country. Today is the best time to work. You were always moaning telling me that we had very high prices for energy and raw materials. We have everything else. Technology, people, educated people, trained people. Commodity prices are at their lowest. Produce and sell. Sanctions are lifted and the world is free for you - go ahead. Therefore, each of you must prove their worth. No one should remain in office only based on personal devotion. This is about the purity of our power. Each specialist, if he works in a state institution and if optimization is underway, should find a place at higher positions according to their profession at schools, hospitals and enterprises.
I emphasize again, dear comrades: a new page in the development of our state is about to open. Let's open this page together. Honestly and with responsibility. Serious tests are lying ahead. It is necessary to ensure not only the further development of the country, but also the preservation of the country. Sovereign and independent. The country that we created. And we have no time to lose. We need to put in all our strength and energy into addressing the most urgent and pressing issues.