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04 April 2024, 13:58

Bellesbumprom urged to tap into internal reserves, not count on restructuring

MINSK, 4 April (BelTA) – The new head of the Belarusian timber, woodworking, pulp and paper industry concern Bellesbumprom will need to tap into the industry’s internal reserves instead of counting on restructuring, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said on 4 April as he greenlighted the appointment of Aleksandr Pshenny as chairman of Bellesbumprom Concern, BelTA has learned.

Before being approved for the new position, Aleksandr Pshenny was deputy chairman of Bellesbumprom Concern. The head of state asked about the state of things at the concern and problems that it is facing.

Aleksandr Pshenny responded that the situation in the industry is getting better by and large, although some enterprises, both private and state-owned, are struggling due to restrictions on exports to the EU market. “First of all, we will try to come to grips with the situation at these enterprises,” he said. In addition, he acknowledged a rather high debt load of enterprises.

“In other words, you have borrowed a lot of money from banks,” the head of state clarified.

“The money was borrowed back in 2010-2015, when large-scale modernization was underway. The debts are big, and they are dragging enterprises down,” explained Aleksandr Pshenny. According to him, there is a proposal to restructure the debts of individual enterprises, to consider reducing interest rates on loans, and to convert foreign currency debts into ruble ones.

“Will this give these companies just a short respite or will it change the situation dramatically?” asked the president.

“For now it will be more of a respite,” said the newly appointed head of the concern.

“You mean, after getting a breath of fresh air, you will go down again?” asked Aleksandr Lukashenko.

“We’ll take a breath, and then we are supposed to build something...” answered the Bellesbumprom Concern head.

The president replied that in his new position, Aleksandr Pshenny must turn the situation around: “You must deliver results.”

“The way Bellesbumprom Concern  operates (you were a deputy chairman there) is unacceptable,” the head of state emphasized. “There are no forests to the south of a certain parallel. The world needs these products. From flooring and baseboards to furniture. And we are not able to sell it. Therefore, first of all, try to find a way out on your own. And if something is not working, come and put forward restructuring proposals.”

The president noted that some understand restructuring as a ploy to dodge debts. “We will not let anyone do this. You have completed the modernization program, so go ahead and work. Start with yourself,” the head of state noted. “If there is a gap in legislation, let us know. You will get the support. The main thing is to deliver results. Invite company heads and communicate this task to them,” the president said.

According to First Deputy Head of the Belarus President Administration Maksim Ryzhenkov, one of the ways out of the situation is to ramp up exports and search for new markets.

“This is clear to everyone. Products should be sold. All is grist to the mill when it comes to markets. And you should not withdraw from the European market. If you work well, you can sell in Europe, anywhere. Now our self-exiled opposition is furious, they prompted the West to look at how we managed to increase trade with Poland (it rose 3-5 times across some product groups), although Poland is portrayed as nearly an enemy of Belarus. Why would it be our enemy? There are no friends or enemies in business. There are interests. Poland, Germany, and the European Union as a whole have interests. But we need to work with them carefully. I’m telling you this publicly,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
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