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Belarus President dismisses Gaidar-style reform proposals

Alexander Lukashenko is angered by the situation with the tariffs for housing and communal services. This was the main topic of the February 22 meeting to discuss taxes and excise policy in 2016.

The meeting participants also talked about the growth of prices for food, fuel and public transportation. They also discussed issues of privatization. The President noted that the government's proposals to amend the privatization of state property system cannot be accepted.

Currently, if an investor comes to a company, he offers his terms to the labor collective. Further, these terms are considered by executive committees, heads of branch offices, the Government, and only then the question falls to the President. The chain is long, but transparent and clear, the President says.

Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
The end of the 20th century has gone down in history. And Belarusians do not need the Gaidar reforms in Russia. If someone wants to pass this stage and to impose similar reforms in Belarus, according to the IMF's patterns (alleging that this is done on the basis of their own knowledge and experience) please, do this without me. We have chosen the path of a socio-oriented economy, and directly told people that the person is at the center of our attention. The main thing is the person. Therefore, the proposal of the Government on sweeping - I'm not saying sudden - privatization cannot be accepted.  Even if we change the state property privatization system.
Privatization, the sale of state property is the most serious issue. Today we are selling something that does not really belong to us. This is what generations of people created, our grandfathers and fathers. Therefore, it is necessary to very carefully approach these issues.
Why change the system of privatization? It of course happens when an investor comes with a serious proposal, which has an instant effect.  Or tomorrow, or the day after, but it gives a huge impact to the state. He makes suggestions either to the Government or the President. Privatization "from the top", if the President approves of a project, is not ruled out. So what? We had such examples. And then the President is fully responsible. In true, he is solely responsible anyway for any change of ownership of an enterprise. You and the people know my position. I am not going to give away a single brick. Because huge work was invested in those bricks. You will not be able to sell them quickly, even under the guise of them being unprofitable.    
Privatization will take place. Any company in the country, under certain conditions, is subject to privatization. But at the forefront here are again human rights, normal working conditions, modernization of enterprises, and increased tax payments to the budget. If we as a result get a modern enterprise which produces goods, sell them freely in international markets and bring foreign currency into the country, there are no questions about such privatization. We will give a green light to it. The country does not need any other kind of privatization.

In addition, the President criticized the Government's proposals on some initiatives that can lead to higher prices. One of them concerned the abolition of the VAT exemptions for about 35 food items. These include milk, meat, and baby food.

Alexander Lukashenko:
Another of the "innovations" is the abolition of the VAT exemptions. Where does it lead us? It leads to the inevitable rise in prices. And I am not sure that the rise in prices will help the budget. Not because we are not sure whether trade turnover will continue. Think about the fact that these are goods for children and the socially vulnerable. Milk and meat. Partly. We can go no one knows where, for some unknown reason and this will affect our people badly. What slogan did we have? Yes, price increases will be there. We are surrounded by countries where prices are higher. Especially where we trade: in the Russian Federation and so on. For selected products. So still we will have to adjust to them, otherwise goods will disappear. Who are we working for? We back then we said that price growth must first be offset by rising incomes. Did our people's incomes rise during this period? No. But we are raising prices. Demand will fall, turnover will fall and what is next? And what dividends will the budget get? What billions will we save? Nothing will we save! We will just offend people, spit into their soul and they will turn away from us.

Price increases should first be compensated by rising incomes, Belarus President says