MINSK, 23 February (BelTA) – Belarus managed to keep its economy up and running throughout 2020, Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko said at the meeting of the Council of Ministers, BelTA has learned.
“The domestic economy demonstrated resilience in the face of unprecedented external and internal pressure. The head of state upheld the government's proposals and approved comprehensive support for the real sector of the economy, businesses and certain employees of private companies and state-run organizations. This support was estimated at more than Br2 billion and was provided in the second half of the year. Given the budget deficit, devaluation, and servicing of public debt obligations, this support is unprecedented. As a result, we managed to maintain uninterrupted operation of companies, to fully restore the amount of added value in the processing industry and, most importantly, to retain personnel,” Roman Golovchenko said.
He emphasized that the living standards of the population improved last year, too. “Salaries grew steadily throughout the year and reached almost Br1,500 in December. Revenues of public-sector employees, primarily doctors and teachers, kept growing. The target was met; the salary of public-sector employees made up 80.4% of the average salary in the country. We reduced the number of companies where salaries were under Br500. Over the past year, their number shrank by more than 18 times,” the prime minister said.
“In addition, the macroeconomic balance remained intact. The foreign trade surplus in 2020 exceeded $1.9 billion, or 3.2% of GDP. This is an all-time record in absolute terms in the history of sovereign Belarus. Moreover, it increased more intensively in the second half of the year as the export of goods bounced back,” Roman Golovchenko said.
He also noted that internal and external debt obligations of the state were honored in time and in full. At the same time, the country's gold and foreign exchange reserves remained within the planned parameters.
“The growth rate of the gross domestic product in 2020 was 99.1% as against the previous year, which is much higher than the world's average and exceeds the growth rate of the world economy by 2.6 percentage points, that of the European Union by 5.5 and Russia by 2.2,” the prime minister said.
Roman Golovchenko touched upon the financial performance of companies. “We took a number of comprehensive decisions that helped us achieve good results. These companies posted losses in the first quarter, however by the end of 2020, they had a net profit of Br6.1 billion. The number of loss-making organizations dropped by 37% during this period,” he informed.
“At the same time, one of the serious problems we must discuss in detail today is the high debt burden on the real sector of the economy. At the end of 2020, aggregate debts of organizations reached nearly Br160 billion, up by 19% compared with the start of the year. In order to rectify the situation, the government has unleashed a consistent plan of action. I call on ministers and governors to get actively involved and to address the pending issues quickly and efficiently. If we achieve the goals we have set, it will not only boost economic performance in 2021, but will also lay a foundation for sustainable growth for the five-year period,” the Belarusian head of government said.