MINSK, 21 January (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions to revise the state investment program for the year 2021 after the government conference involving top officials of the Council of Ministers on 21 January, BelTA learned from Belarusian Economy Minister Aleksandr Chervyakov.
The official said: “We will once again look at the program from the point of view of effectiveness and new projects. After that it will be forwarded for consideration of the head of state. Resources should be concentrated on the spheres of current interest: healthcare, transport infrastructure, power engineering, land melioration, and roads. It is into these vectors that the bulk of the funds will be channeled.”
The economy minister added that the state investment program will keep the projects, which can produce tangible benefits soon in the form of new jobs, tax revenues of municipal budgets, and support for the development of the areas that lag behind. “It should become effective from the point of view of spending state resources,” he stressed.
The president gave instructions to revise state investments in economy and the social sphere as a whole in order to channel money into spheres of vital importance. It was noted that the construction of some installations and facilities may be no longer necessary while other projects can be postponed. At the same time investments in healthcare cannot be delayed while the creation of new jobs is always a problem.
During the conference the government suggested extending preferences for ecological tourism and farm tourism till 2030. Aleksandr Lukashenko agreed to all the approaches but suggested ending the document's effect in 2025. All participants of the government conference supported the decision.
The economy minister said after the government conference: “We should explore and develop all the opportunities. Ecological and farm tourism is our potential. We should exploit the natural riches and the ability of our people to use these riches in order to create jobs in places where building a large enterprise is not always a good idea.”
The president gave instructions to inspect the entire farm tourism industry. Some farm tourism estates, particularly those close to oblast capitals and Minsk, grow into small hotels and start offering a broader range of services while exploiting legislation loopholes to enjoy the preferences that small companies in remote villages have, too.
During the government conference Aleksandr Lukashenko spoke in favor of resorting to the toughest measures to punish tax evasion. He said he wanted punishments for tax evasion on par with those of the United States of America. “Let's introduce these measures. Nobody will criticize us for it because [the USA] is a pillar of democracy,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
When asked how much the economy loses due to the so-called grey business, the economy minister noted: “I will cite the figures we've repeatedly calculated for many years. For instance, according to estimates of our scientists, we are talking about 12% [of the GDP]. According to international organizations, the figure can be as large as 18% or about 20% in some areas. This is why taxes must be paid. It is a sacred duty of any business.”
Yet the economy minister stressed that everything must be balanced: “If we step up taxation requirements, then certainly there must be other exemptions to balance it.”