MINSK, 4 August (BelTA) – We should not rely on foreign investment but set up production facilities in the regions, Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko said as he delivered his annual address to the Belarusian people and the National Assembly on 4 August, BelTA has learned.
“The biggest and safest source of economic growth is investment. In Belarus a lot of people, including those ‘with alternative views', say that foreign investors will start flowing in," Aleksandr Lukashenko said. There is an opinion that if after the election Belarus will give companies away to investors, the country will turn into a paradise, the president added.
The president called to look at it realistically. “U.S. gross domestic product fell by 33% in the second quarter of this year, despite huge stimulus packages (billions were thrown into the economy). The leading economy collapsed by a third,” the head of state said. “Germany's GDP shrank by 12% and is now at the level of 2011. It was thrown 10 years back. Spain is back to 2002 (minus 22%), and Italy was pushed back to the early 1990s (minus 17%).”
“Well, where do you think American, German and Russian investments will go under these conditions? Where will the money go? Of course, the money will be used to rebuild their own countries. Don't be naive. Their money will stay home. It is silly and in fact self-destructive to think that they will flow in Belarus to help us out,” Aleksandr Lukashenko warned.
He urged not to mislead people at a time when economic nationalism prevails in the world.
“No one can save us but us. Our gross domestic product shrank by merely 1.7% in H1. It is encouraging that in June the economy started growing, although by one tenth of a percent. The negative trend will soon be reversed, we just need to build momentum. This is due to the fact that we did not put on hold our manufacturing industry. When people went back to normal life [after restrictive measures were removed], they needed products. There were no products as the economy was on lockdown. People bought Belarus-made goods and not only in Belarus,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
Since 2016, some 300,000 jobs have been created in Belarus. There were no mass layoffs even amidst the pandemic. The number of jobs is steadily bigger than the number of jobless people.
“Some 10-15 years ago we talked about investment for the sake of investment in order to create jobs, but now we do not need such investment. We will launch only those companies that make competitive products and generate profits. However, they will be offered the same terms as domestic producers,” Aleksandr Lukashenko noted.
The president believes that while setting goals for the new five-year period, the country should embrace the best practices of the Soviet Union, as well as China and Japan.
You remember, there was always a detailed plan back then, including investment projects, volumes and sources of investment. Above all there was strict discipline. This is the only way to ensure equal development of regions and distribution of production forces. For this purpose at least one big project needs to be implemented in every oblast and two in the city of Minsk,” the head of state stressed. They need to have thorough planning and sources of financing. Aleksandr Lukashenko cited OAO Grodno Azot as a case in point.
Moreover, one or two medium-sized manufacturing facilities need to be set up in every region.
“We do not need to build everything from scratch. Almost in every region of the country there are vacant manufacturing areas. They need to be used for these purposes. Every facility, be it in Orsha or in the south-east of Mogilev Oblast, needs to undergo an inventory and have an appropriate development plan. It should be first of all done in mid-sized cities with over 80,000 population. We have 11 such cities and each of them has a concrete development plan,” the head of state said.