MINSK, 12 November (BelTA) – Belarus will continue work on lowering barriers standing in the way of investments. Belarusian Economy Minister Aleksandr Chervyakov talked about directions of the country's social and economic development for a period of five years, about the investment climate and ways to further improve it, and about the development of the regions at a national seminar, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Chervyakov said: “The first year of the current five-year term is nearing its end. It was an extremely complicated period. Serious changes are taking place in all the spheres of economy. Trends in favor of globalization, openness, and hyperconnectivity looked absolutely natural yesterday. Today we have economic isolation, broken logistics chains, and closed borders. COVID-19-related restrictions and Western sanctions necessitated an immediate response. In these conditions we have to make the economy more resilient to external shocks, ensure economic growth, macroeconomic and financial stability, and raise living standards of the people.”
The economy minister noted that the main goals and directions of Belarus' social and economic development for a period of five years had been determined. “Key efforts to achieve the goals are specified by the government's action program. In particular, fixed-capital investments are supposed to exceed Br200 million over the course of five years. It is an ambitious task. But we have to set such goals if we are to accomplish something serious,” he stressed.
Aleksandr Chervyakov mentioned how a set of measures to pursue a goal-oriented investment policy is being implemented. “First, we intend to persistently reduce expenses of investors in the course of realization of investment projects by optimizing the accompanying construction procedures. The work proceeds together with the Architecture and Construction Ministry and within the framework of expert groups set up by the Economy Ministry to reduce the administrative burden and in tight contact with the business community. Second, we need long-term predictability of project implementation conditions. The private sector has always been adamant about it. Work on correspondingly amending the law on investments and ordinance No.10 on enabling additional conditions for investments in Belarus is nearing completion. Third, it is important to secure access to long-term financial resources for companies and enterprises. We will have to develop the entire range of financial tools. We have to make not only loans convenient and affordable but also bonded loans. We have to enable conditions for reinvesting revenues. Taking into account the high demand on foreign markets and positive financial results, we see that net profit is accumulating and some of it can be invested. We just need stimuli to encourage enterprises to invest in their development instead of keeping the money as bank deposits,” the official explained.
The development of infrastructure is one of the key tasks of the state. “Even in the difficult pandemic conditions we continue developing infrastructure for the sake of creating favorable conditions for investors. This year alone Br67 million has been spent on developing the energy infrastructure in free economic zones. As much as Br40 million has been appropriated for the next year,” the economy minister added.
Aleksandr Chervyakov also mentioned ways to increase the supply of available infrastructure. “I am talking about unused industrial sites. It is necessary to create conditions to allow investors to promptly connect to infrastructure at a site and start building instead of going through bureaucratic procedures. The last mile principle should be implemented. The National Agency of Investment and Privatization has recently inventoried sites located in cities with the population of 80,000 people and above. A total of 55 sites with the total area of 950ha were recorded,” the official pointed out.
Aleksandr Chervyakov also reminded about the formula for the investment-accelerated development of the regions: at least one manufacturing investment project in every district, at least one major project in every oblast and two in the city of Minsk. “The entire work on the five-year investment plan is built around this formula. Lists of projects have been compiled many times as we put together the programs to guide the development of economy branches and regions. There are plans to implement over 1,000 projects worth about Br30 billion all over Belarus over the course of five years,” he remarked.
The economy minister also reminded about the need to develop the regions. “Making differences between regions minimal is the key task. People need to enjoy comfortable life, decent salaries, the ability to choose jobs, good housing, good roads, healthcare and education regardless of where they live. There is one goal but every region has its own way of achieving this goal. Competitive advantages are determined by peculiarities of every territory – the number of residents, industrial development, infrastructure, ecological situation, and even the average age of the people. In other words, investment projects have to take into account this entire potential,” Aleksandr Chervyakov stated.
In his words, it is necessary to use investment process control levers as much as possible. “The state budget is the first one. The government controls capital investments at the level of nationwide and regional programs. The second lever is industry-specific. Five-year development plans should be based on concrete investment projects, including import substitution ones. Innovations are the third lever. I am talking about the government program on innovation-driven development. It envisages over 70 projects in healthcare, pharmaceutics, mechanical engineering, chemical industry, power engineering, civil engineering, and agribusiness. There are also projects of the future in five areas: national electric transport, biotechnologies in agribusiness, innovative healthcare, biotechnologies for pharmaceutics, and smart cities. The total investments exceed Br6 billion. Integration is the fourth lever. Within the framework of the Eurasian industrialization program Belarus participates in the implementation of 32 production sector projects. Apart from that, we have to suggest joint integration projects to Russia within the framework of the Union State of Belarus and Russia,” Aleksandr Chervyakov summed it up.