MINSK, 20 November (BelTA) – It is very important to preserve and develop the country's machine-building potential. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the statement as he talked to workers of the agricultural machinery company OAO Gomselmash on 20 November, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “To preserve the mechanical engineering industry is the basis for me as the president. The key thing is that we will have engineers, product engineers, and executives. Working with a shovel is one thing but making such machines and vehicles is a totally different thing. We need good specialists. It is the key reason why we hold on to the mechanical engineering industry.
Aleksandr Lukashenko recalled that shortly after Belarus was established as an independent state as the president he was repeatedly suggested that the mechanical engineering industry should be curtailed and harvesters, which were in extreme demand, should be imported. “What we should do with Gomselmash was the key question. Whether we should make our own grain and forage harvesters or not. Back then we decided we will make our own harvesters,” he reminded.
Since then the Belarusian company has designed and mastered the production of cutting-edge machines and vehicles. A harvester powered by natural gas is one of the latest products. In the future the company intends to make a harvester that will utilize artificial intelligence in its work.
“Do you understand how much we have accomplished? I will never allow something that has been made with my own hands among others to fall into ruin. This is why the country's mechanical engineering industry has to live,” the Belarusian leader pointed out. “Even when someone succeeds Lukashenko, he will not be able to destroy it. It is my job to make it impossible to destroy once I am gone because otherwise you will protest in the streets.”
“Don't even think that we will become happy if we privatize this factory and sell it,” Aleksandr Lukashenko warned. The loss of competences, the loss of technologies and qualifications are some of the negative consequences. “Do you think those [who can buy the enterprise] will preserve these competences? No, you will make simple things here like nuts and bolts while the main competences – gear boxes, engines, drives, and so on – will be made somewhere else where education, people, and big money are. You will not get much in exchange for simple stuff. It is one of the dangers of privatization. This is how my policy differs from those infamous protesters, who wanted to grab the power, divide everything that's left, and sell it! I say no!”
Aleksandr Lukashenko once again reiterated that privatization can happen only on the terms that benefit Belarus. “I don't want us to become an appendix of someone else. It is what my policy is all about,” he said. “Don't even think I will allow blanket privatization. Pay us while we will have to evaluate what privatization will give us. If you pay us, we will create new machines, vehicles, and equipment and sell them on your market.”
The preservation of the workforce is one of the important conditions. “I was approached and told once that a company employs 8,000 people but they don't need that many and would like to leave only two or three thousand. I couldn't condone firing that many people. If the workforce has to be reduced, there are ways. Some people can retire while some people can find jobs in other places. It is a process,” Aleksandr Lukashenko remarked.
The president stressed that the attitude to workers changes greatly as manufacturing processes and equipment get more and more complicated. Highly qualified workers are in short supply in many countries. Belarus is in a better position because the country's vocational training system has been preserved. “A worker is not a slave now. A skilled worker is valuable. The demand for workers is huge,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
The president noted with satisfaction that entire generations of families are employed at many Belarusian enterprises. “A dynasty is a good example for the entire worker collective,” he stressed. “Nobody else wants your kids and grandkids. Things will be even more complicated later on. This is why you should hold on to this enterprise, root for it with all your heart. While we have supported and will continue supporting mechanical engineering.”