GRODNO DISTRICT, 18 August (BelTA) – Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko has suggested a scheme for resolving the problem of housing availability for workers in the countryside. Aleksandr Lukashenko gave instructions for the government to consider the relevant approaches as he visited V.I. Kremko Production Cooperative in Grodno District, BelTA has learned.
Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered how this agricultural enterprise was dealing with the housing shortage problem. He drew attention to the construction of rental housing. Prices for sawn timber have been rising recently while Belarus has plenty of this resource. “Housing prices are extremely high right now. Timber prices have increased most of all. When I fly over the country, I see forests everywhere,” he remarked. “There is plenty of timber. We sometimes fail to process in time. And if we process it, we make boards (I've forbidden exporting round logs) and export them. Meanwhile, our people have to pay crazy money in order to build houses, wooden houses.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the government to come up with a procedure to allocate timber to workers of such enterprises at lower prices. “We have timber. Why can't we sell this timber to peasants for a bargain price? Then the house will be ten times cheaper. And then the individual and the executive will work hard. But these houses have to be rented out if we offer these preferences. The employer has to own these houses. Otherwise, people who build a house for free will quit right away. And maybe we could offer the preferences to people, who do not work in agriculture but live in the countryside. But not in the manner those peasants will enjoy,” the head of state contemplated some of the options. “In other words, we should think about ways to reduce prices for timber for housing construction. But it has to start with the countryside. And everything should be transparent. It must not be done indiscriminately.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko also admitted that after a person has been employed by an agricultural enterprise for a certain period, he or she may be granted the right to buy such houses but it is necessary to reduce the cost of construction of these houses first. “We need to make this housing cheaper. It is a disgrace that we have the timber but people either pay crazy money… Since prices are high, everyone wants but cannot build houses. We should think it through during winter,” he said.
Grodno Oblast Governor Vladimir Karanik remarked that good salaries, good working conditions, and housing are needed in order to keep people in the countryside.
Aleksandr Lukashenko noted: “Salaries will depend on people, too.” But helping people get housing is the key, he is convinced. Working conditions may vary but people should be able to come home and enjoy proper living standards. “They should be able to take a shower… It is good that we are not Germany and UK where they save on toilet paper and advise against taking showers [twice per week]. Thank god, we have plenty of that. As for salaries… Well, you have to tell people: you will get as much as you earn,” the president added.