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Belarus government urged to work harder to create jobs in 2018

Economy 14.11.2017 | 18:50
Photo courtesy of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus
Photo courtesy of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus

MINSK, 14 November (BelTA) – Accelerating the growth of the number of working Belarusians should become a focal point for the entire power vertical in 2018. The plans were discussed during the latest expanded-participation session of the Presidium of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus, the press service of the upper chamber of the Belarusian parliament told BelTA.

Chaired by Chairman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly of Belarus Mikhail Myasnikovich, the session focused on the next year's draft social and economic development forecast, draft state budget, and draft monetary management policy. Mikhail Myasnikovich pointed out that these documents cover the third year of the current five-year term. It is important to peruse them as a package bearing in mind the tasks that will have to be accomplished in 2019-2020. “It is necessary to pay close attention to how all these processes are harmonized within the framework of the Eurasian Economic Union, the Union State of Belarus and Russia and to how external factors — prices for energy resources, terms of trade, and other important matters — are taken into account,” he stressed.

According to Vladimir Pantyukhov, Chairman of the Economy, Budget, and Finance Commission of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly, parameters of the next year's social and economic development forecast are balanced with each other and are close to the goals set by the five-year plan. Belarus' GDP growth rate is projected to reach 103.4% while the targeted range is 103-103.8%. In line with the draft document the labor productivity growth rate will be ahead of the salary growth rate, which is an important macroeconomic balance condition. In 2018 Belarus intends to spend at least Br23.3 billion in fixed-capital investments, 106.8% as against 2017.

It was noted that accelerating the growth of the number of working Belarusians should become a focal point for the entire power vertical for the next year. The number of Belarusians with jobs should become one of the most important indicators of the country's social and economic development forecast. Participants of the session also drew attention to the importance of measures to increase the science content in the GDP and sketch out R&D tasks with broad strokes.

Proposals were voiced to allow commercial banks to use their own resources to finance projects. This way the banks could act as investors instead of purely moneylenders.

The next year's central state budget has been drafted bearing in mind the conservative scenario of the Belarusian economy's development, which expects the GDP growth rate of 101.2%. The draft budget will remain socially oriented and provides for raising salaries, pensions, for providing support to building homes for people on the housing register. The development of education, healthcare and other areas is one of the priorities, too.

Proposals were voiced to spend more money on science and innovations, to expand the budget mechanisms for financing Belarusian agribusiness, including via presidential decree No.347 of 17 July 2014. Proposals were also voiced in favor of improving the mechanisms used to finance a number of government programs. It was noted that the documents under consideration should take into account the institutional innovations, which are stipulated by the package of documents on liberalizing private business in Belarus.

Representatives of the Economy Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the Tax and Duties Ministry presented their reports during the session.

Deputy Economy Minister Alexander Chervyakov informed those present about the largest investment projects, which are supposed to be implemented next year. The number includes the continued construction of the Belarusian nuclear power plant, the modernization of Mozyr Oil Refinery, the construction of the second runway in the Minsk National Airport, the development of the Starobinskoye and Petrikovskoye potash salts deposits, the construction of the third metro line in Minsk, and the expansion of the China-Belarus industrial park Great Stone.

Development prospects of Belarusian regions were also discussed. According to the deputy economy minister, the ministry is busy working out a plan for industrializing the regions. It is necessary to compile a list of investment projects bearing in mind what imports Belarus could substitute and bearing in mind proposals of the National Academy of Sciences of Belarus and the State Science and Technology Committee. Thus, a package of projects with a focus on technical and technological capabilities of every region is in development. Conditions conducive to the implementation of each project will be enabled. Possibilities for cooperation with partners in the Eurasian Economic Union, primarily Russia and Kazakhstan, will be taken into account. The list of the relevant investment proposals will be posted on the Belarusian Economy Ministry website and will be discussed with the business community and interested government agencies.

At the end of the session Mikhail Myasnikovich drew attention to several important matters, including efforts to ensure the competitive ability of Belarusian enterprises. “Our production sector, our agriculture, and power engineering industry should make products that sell well on foreign markets. You have to bear in mind that we make products, which are oversupplied in the world,” he said. Belarusian products have to face tough competition. It is necessary to invest in development with this in mind. Taking into account the growing competition and the advance of science and technologies it would be advisable to revise approaches to the development of the real sector of the Belarusian economy. It is also important to revise priorities in R&D and scientific efforts, to evaluate the effectiveness of innovation funds. The head of the upper chamber of the Belarusian park backed the idea in favor of more expanded participation of commercial banks in the implementation of promising investment projects.

Mikhail Myasnikovich also instructed to put more efforts into raising the nation's awareness about the major monetary management guidelines, the draft budget and the draft social and economic development forecast for the next year.

The Council of the Republic's information about the draft forecast documents is supposed to be forwarded to the Belarus President Administration on 15 November. The budget package will be brought into the parliament on 17 November. Representatives of the Council of Ministers will attend the parliament's session then.

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