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09 April 2024, 18:43

Lukashenko responds to request to ease access to agricultural equipment leasing

MINSK, 9 April (BelTA) – At the meeting to discuss the country’s manufacturing sector, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave an instruction to ease access to the purchase of agricultural equipment on a lease basis, BelTA has learned.

Such a request was made by Minsk Oblast Governor Aleksandr Turchin. According to him, more than 25,000 units of self-propelled equipment and trailers are used at agricultural enterprises of Minsk Oblast; 1302 units, or 5%, are under warranty service. A total of 1,330 units of domestic equipment were purchased in 2022 and 1,256 in 2023.

The most in demand machines are energy-efficient tractors. There are only 1,673 of them in Minsk Oblast, 146 of them are under warranty service, and 729 have been in operation for over 10 years. “Unfortunately, this type of equipment has the largest number of failures - 2.55 failures per unit,” said the governor. “The main causes of breakdowns during the warranty period are the failure of the hydraulic system (19%) and the malfunction of electrical equipment (17%).” According to him, there are also complaints about the quality of forage harvesters.

Aleksandr Turchin emphasized that agricultural companies of Minsk Oblast are very interested in purchasing energy-efficient MTZ 3522 tractors; the demand is about 150 units. However, there is a problem with payments for such equipment: “Decree No. 146 introduced comfortable terms for leasing equipment;  the lease period is 7.5 years and the interest rate is 2% per annum. But after Promagroleasing toughened its rating methodology, about 70% of agricultural enterprises of Minsk Oblast turned to be insolvent in line with the new criteria, thus, they can no longer lease equipment.”

In this regard, the Minsk Oblast governor asked the president to reinstate the earlier scheme of financing the purchase of equipment. In line with this scheme, the decision on purchasing equipment is made by the regional executive committee. If an agricultural company fails to make leasing payments, the regional executive committee undertakes to make such payments from its budget.

“We would be happy to buy MTZ equipment every year, specifically, an energy-efficient tractor that we can operate all year round, including for spring sowing, fodder preparation, winter sowing, in other words, we can use it throughout the year,” explained Aleksandr Turchin.

After hearing out the governor, the president asked Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko: “Why didn’t the government get together and discuss this matter and come up with proposals?”

"You warned against mass distribution of equipment across the country. We have had bad debt cases, especially in Vitebsk Oblast and Mogilev Oblast," the head of government explained. "Now the situation with payment discipline has improved, but there were such facts, and they were a heavy burden."

"The government is working on the idea that the governor suggested," Roman Golovchenko continued. “But I don't think it can be applied on mass scale, across the country. This demotivates and discourages the staff. In terms of Minsk Oblast, the issue is solvable." 

"No indiscriminate approach here," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “But if the governor asks [for a certain amount of equipment], if he has the funds for this (to lease it), let him do it. But every year you will have less money from the budget [in case of failure of payment by enterprises that have leased the equipment, the financing of the region from the state budget will be reduced by the amount of the debt]. Therefore, let them think about who to give a tractor to and who to underwrite." 

"This, in fact, was our goal and we achieved by applying  harsher methods," Roman Golovchenko said.

A separate point that the head of state drew attention to is equipment maintenance and compliance with labor discipline. Such complex, expensive machines as tractors should be given to those farms that have appropriate conditions for storage, that do scheduled repair, maintenance and  that operate them properly. There are examples of such examples across the country, and the president has repeatedly encouraged the regional leaders to scale up this experience. "If maintained poorly, the equipment will work poorly," Aleksandr Lukashenko noted. “You can't give this equipment to anyone. A tractor needs maintaining and appropriate operators. With two workers in charge of it, it will work around the clock. That's the way to use the equipment."

The president once again emphasized the need for strict observance of discipline at all levels - both on the part of employees who operate equipment, and at a higher level - heads of farms and regions, who should demand responsibility from their subordinates and who should show responsibility in fulfilling the tasks assigned to them.

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