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30 May 2022, 11:04

Belarus to revise approaches to economic policy

MINSK, 30 May (BelTA) – The bill on the improvement of Belarus' socio-economic policy was submitted for discussion to Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko, BelTA has learned.

“Let no one be surprised that we are holding such a big meeting. It is just that the government is making a number of big proposals,” the head of state said.

The president recalled that after the adoption of the new Constitution, laws became the main legal acts in Belarus.

“The government has prepared a bill setting forth new approaches to running the economy for the period of a year and a half. I know that government agencies and the authors of the document hold different, sometimes polar views on certain provisions. Therefore, before submitting this bill to the parliament, we have invited the interested parties to this meeting in order to make a final decision on controversial points,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

The bill covers virtually all areas of activity: investment and finance, manufacturing, transport and logistics, social safety net.

“Although the proposed measures are temporary in nature (they are to be in place until the end of 2023, as I have said), each of them is quite serious and provides for drastic changes to individual processes. In this regard (this primarily concerns parliamentarians, they will have to consider the bill) we should be careful as not to unbalance and destabilize the socio-economic situation in the country by these ‘temporary measures'. As far as I am informed, the purpose of the bill is to mitigate the negative impact of the Western sanctions on the economy of Belarus,” the president said.

A number of measures stipulated by the bill is directly aimed at protecting national interests and strengthening the economic security of the country. However, some provisions suggest dramatic overhaul of regulations in some areas. For example, it is proposed to introduce customs and tax deferrals, a temporary ban on increasing property taxes, a ban on surprise checks, deferrals of repayment of consumer loans and housing loans by households, as well as a ban on increasing tariffs for heat and electricity in 2022.

The head of state asked how this would affect budget revenues and, consequently, salaries of teachers, doctors, pension and child benefits.

“My concerns about the simultaneous adoption of such a number of decisions are the following: are we ready for this? Aren't we going too far? These proposals look good on paper, but may turn out worthless in reality,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.

First Deputy Prime Minister Nikolai Snopkov noted during the meeting that the main goal of the bill is to help people and businesses adapt to the new environment. “At a time when the outside world is pressing and blackmailing, the essence of the internal mobilization of the economy, in our opinion, is to create the most simple, understandable terms that cushion the external pressure on domestic enterprises. The domestic market, domestic resources and a comfortable internal environment are the pillars of a new Belarus that is successfully resisting the sanctions at the moment and will continue doing so in the future,” Nikolai Snopkov said.

The participants of the meeting discussed in detail the economic situation, the work of the operational headquarters under the Council of Ministers and the proposals submitted by government agencies and the business community. The head of state urged to take urgent and targeted measures to respond to the current situation. Local authorities and the government have all the powers to do that.

“The government has been instructed to take decisions. If the go-ahead of the head of state is needed, he will give it,” Nikolai Snopkov told reporters after the meeting. “We will try to make sure that everything is implemented in the near future,” he added.

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