Last week, the Belarus President continued his working trip to the country's regions. This time the focus was on the Grodno region. The visit revealed a number of problems, from restoration of order at enterprises to personnel policy.
Alexander Lukashenko, President of Belarus:
I am concerned that such a strong region as Grodno in the first half of 2016 did not fulfill five of the eight key performance indicators. This will not go that way. This way, the Grodno region will turn into a place that I visited for the first time 20 years ago. It was horror! We got out. So in order not to repeat the same, we need to strain our muscles and work.
Alexander Lukashenko did not follow the preset route during the visit and went to ordinary workers to talk with them eye to eye and ask about problems. Breeders in Grodno - the agrarian leader of Belarus - are not having the best times. The construction of 30 large dairy complexes in the Grodno region is falling behind the schedule. Local managers are trying to hide problems and present successes only on paper.
Leonid Zayats, Agriculture and Food Minister of Belarus:
We built new dairy complexes on 80 of the 253 farms that are equipped with milking halls. But out of 80 are 22 that have milk yields lower than the average national figures.
Once the head of state insisted on the construction of modern facilities for cattle and this brought fruit. Another requirement of the President is to introduce new technologies in fodder.
The President instructed to give old bulky buildings a new look, and turn towns in the Grodno region into modern places for life and work. The head of state asked to report to him on the state of affairs and changes in the region in two years.
Turkish businessmen, who want to invest in the Grodno region, will be given preferences, the President said.
Mücahit Ingenç, owner of a Turkish company:
I am very pleased that the President of Belarus allowed us to buy the factory. We believe that we will cope on time. We are going to make excellent repairs and most of the products will be exported to Denmark, Poland, Germany and other countries. I am sure we will have success.
Current problems in the construction industry have an impact on the fall of the region's export. And to hold on foreign markets, Grodno builders had to lower prices. But this led to decreased profitability at the Krasnoselsky cement plant. But now the situation is changing for the better. Demand is improving.
Anatoly Chernyi, Minister of Architecture and Construction of Belarus:
According to H1 2016, we have positive sales profitability. By the end of the year, we will cover our losses. We still have some losses because of loans, which we obtained for working assets due to the fact that we have big receivables. Therefore, if it were not for interest payments we would become profitable by 2016 year-end.
Demand for cement in Belarus has become higher, partially thanks to the construction of the second ring around Minsk.
I have visited two cement plants, I did not sleep at night. We have invested so much money. There were 4 or 5 million tons and we increased production capacities to up 9 million tons. And what now? Then the second ring road appeared. Today, it is almost ready. I flew over it. A good road.
A new route from Minsk will be built to Grodno. It will help to build bridges for the development of tourism. But the President immediately highlights that no large interchanges and overpasses are needed. The region has to save money. Moreover, Alexander Lukashenko was asked to help the region with the construction of a cancer center and a health center.
When it comes to unemployment, 11 people compete for every 10 jobs. In some other regions of Belarus, this figure is worse.
The President instructs the local power vertical to create more jobs for people.
Guys, we were born on this earth. And we know what we lack for normal operation of the economy in the country, particularly in the Grodno region. Therefore, let us roll up our sleeves and begin to work. That is what we are lacking. And hence we have problems with production costs, machinery and so on. Start working in a normal way!
Vladimir Kravtsov, Chairman of the Grodno Regional Executive Committee:
Over six months of 2016, we have ensured the implementation of some targets: investments, job creation, the export of goods, cost reduction and foreign receivables.
Alexander Lukashenko announced that new and unplanned trips will continue in all parts of the country. The President promised to return to the north of the Grodno region, where the most problematic districts in the region are located.
I have no complaints to you in terms of work, hard work. On the contrary, we in Belarus should learn from you in many ways. Look at people in Polesie areas. I believe that the foundation of Belarusians is there: the nature and other stuff. Especially after living there for a while... I do it every year, I come to them.
I helped Polesie at lot, we just pulled the region out of swamps. Strong people live there. Each region has its own peculiarities. But when it comes to Grodno, we will demand that you work well and be held accountable if you fail. This is because all others should look at you and learn from you.