MINSK, 15 November (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko met with high-ranking officials on 15 November to discuss the operation of Belarusian yeast factories, BelTA informs.
For the last time the state affairs in the yeast industry was discussed at the level of the head of state in 2018 – in February Aleksandr Lukashenko visited Slutsk Yeast Factory, in December this issue was raised at the meeting with the Council of Ministers to discuss the performance of state-run enterprises.
“Today we will discuss one of the issues, which, unfortunately, has to be brought to the level of the presidents. This issue should have been handled in the government long ago,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the beginning of the meeting.
Slutsk Yeast Factory, which received €37 million in investment, including €10 million worth of German investments, has increased its production capacity to 20,000 tonnes of products in the meantime. In general, the production capacity of the Slutsk-based enterprise can be increased to 70,000 tonnes of producst per year. Besides, there are Minsk Yeast Factory and its affiliated company in Oshmyany in the country. They can produce 15,100 tonnes of products per year. The demand for pressed yeast on the Belarusian market is 7,700 tonnes.
“It was reported to me that the domestic demand for pressed yeast is fully satisfied by local companies. Our yeast products are also exported, including to the European Union countries,” the president remarked.
However, according to the head of state, there are untapped reserves for growth in the industry. Apart from traditional baking, yeast can be used in medicine, animal husbandry. “I would like to discuss the efficiency of the yeast industry and its further development today,” Aleksandr Lukashenko added.
In order to avoid any “conspiracy theories”, the president did not conceal existing nuances which have become a reason for holding the meeting.
“Germans allegedly demand that we stop all our yeast production facilities and leave only one enterprise for work on the Belarusian market. Something like that. And this requirement allegedly derives from our promise to do it before the construction of a new yeast factory in Slutsk,” the head of state explained. “Members of the government, the prime minister also tried to convince me that we had promised that, and if we do not do it, we can start a war with Germany tomorrow, and that it can turn into the third world war.”
Before the session an agreement with investors was analyzed at the Belarus President Administration. It turned out that the document did not include corresponding requirements and provisions. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, it could not be like that. “If there was anything, it was absolute nonsense from officials,” he said. “However, let's look into the matter. If we promised anything, especially to foreign investors, we must fulfill it. If not, let's find a normal way out from the existing situation because these are our enterprises, and it does not matter who invested in them – Germans, Belarusians, Russians, or Ukrainians. These are our enterprises and we must take care of them. And we should not take care of one enterprise at the expense of the other. People working there are the priority. And the majority of them are Belarusians.”
Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Dvornik informed the president about the performance of Belarusian yeast factories. In his words, 75% of shares of the Slutsk-based enterprise belongs to Germany, the other part is owned by Belarus. The factory has 79 employees, the average salary exceeds Br1,400. Just to compare: Minsk Yeast Factory has 150 employees, the average salary is Br850. The affiliated company in Oshmyany has 64 employees, the average salary is Br582.
In January-September 2019, the domestic demand for yeast products was satisfied nearly in equal parts by the factories in Slutsk and Minsk.
BelTA has learned that various scenarios were discussed at the meeting. Spokesperson for the President Natalya Eismont said that there were several ideas and different government bodies saw that situation in a different light. Some of them suggested merging the enterprises, others – to restructure the Minsk-based factory. A possibility to close the enterprise and other options were discussed as well.
At the same time, all participants of the meeting agreed that Minsk Yeast Factory is a good enterprise which can compete with a modern plant in Slutsk in the future. According to the president, it is not an option to close the affiliated company in Oshmyany as it contradicts the socially oriented policy in the country.
Aleksandr Lukashenko authorized Minsk Mayor Anatoly Sivak and Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Kravtsov to look into the situation. They were instructed to consider different scenarios, make a decision taking into account the national interests of Belarus and submit this decision to the president. According to Aleksandr Lukashenko, the main thing is to take care of people.
The head of state also focused on the development of export. The Slutsk-based enterprise was expected to be an export-oriented one. However, not enough progress has been made in this field. It seems that investors do not fulfill their obligations in full.
Chairman of the Minsk City Hall Anatoly Sivak told reporters after the meeting with the president that Minsk Yeast Factory is more efficient from the economic perspective. “It operates in the black and is financially stable,” he said. However, according to Anatoly Sivak, further development of the factory at the existing premises in Minsk is impossible.
Anatoly Sivak explained that, in accordance with the general plan, the zone where the yeast factory is located is a public place, which does not envisage the development of production facilities. “Any factory can be located in such zones, but these production facilities cannot grow. If you have a renovation or upgrade plan, you will not get a permission,” the Minsk mayor said. “It means that investing in this asset contradicts the general plan and is a risky move at the same time because requirements of the general plan can be enforces any time and you will have to pull down a modernized facility.”More about President