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08 October 2021, 15:44

Lukashenko wants top Belarusian state-run retailer to improve performance

MINSK, 8 October (BelTA) – Enterprises and organizations of the Belarusian National Union of Consumer Societies (Belkoopsoyuz) have to improve their performance. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko gave the relevant instructions at a general meeting of representatives of the members of the Belarusian National Union of Consumer Societies on 8 October, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “The country has no spare money. We also have to help the medics. The state budget alone has spent virtually Br2 billion on fighting COVID-19 over the course of two years. And things are about to get worse. You can see the morbidity rate has increased all over the world. And you can't imagine how much effort and money are needed to save people. We have to protect from the disease, save, and rescue people. We also have to support kids and the elderly and build roads and so on.”

The head of state went on saying: “Should we help Belkoopsoyuz [which buys a lot of fruits and vegetables Belarusians grow in subsidiary plots] when people's apples rot, when people sometimes throw away tomatoes and cucumbers, when people don't know what to do with their strawberries… Such facts were mentioned by mass media last year. I personally sent the Belkoopsoyuz head to specific areas in order to help people. It is the job of executive personnel, including me, to make people work. Belkoopsoyuz should no longer trail along at the back. The central government and the oblast administrations should not be calm about it. All things considered, you stay away from this problem. I want you to understand that due to Western sanctions you have to fight for every opportunity to make money. And here gold just lies on the ground. You just have to take off white gloves and pick it up.”

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that procurement of fruits, vegetables, and berries from the population is one of the key functions of the union of consumer societies. It is unlikely anyone can replace Belkoopsoyuz in this regard. Belkoopsoyuz bought Br205 million worth of products from the population in 2020 and Br230 million worth of foods so far this year.

“This is why the right organization of purchases from the population is a matter of Belkoopsoyuz's survival in the fight against imports and domestic competitors. Certainly, I often say that it allows a number of rural Belarusians to make money. However, it is your salvation first and foremost. If you don't save money by buying cheap raw materials, you will never get profits from processing and from retail. You will have losses, will moan, and will once again request state support,” the head of state said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that private enterprises, farmers, and even self-employed Belarusians have been working so much better in this regard for the last few years. “Smarter people understood prospects of this market a long time ago,” he remarked.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also pointed out that today's world is crazy (in a good sense of the word) about organic food. “It is a profitable business. And another feature of yours. Why don't you put more efforts into this venture by buying the best products from the population, products that contain no additives, substitutes, and preserving agents but only vitamins?” he wondered.

The president said he wants Belkoopsoyuz to stop describing food procurement from the population as only a social function. “It is not the key function. It is primarily a reserve for improving your finances and even represents an export potential. Don't forget about it,” he stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that Belkoopsoyuz touts as major accomplishments the fact that it earns $50 million from export every year and the fact that up to 20% of the food bought from the population is exported. “It may be an accomplishment for your system, which didn't export anything in the past. But don't forget that cognition comes through comparison. The country's total export of agricultural products will be $6 billion this year. So, Belkoopsoyuz's contribution to this figure is less than 1%. Think about whether there is room for improvement or not. And you export virtually no finished products with a high added value. And regions of Russia remain the key market. Belkoopsoyuz sells virtually nothing to the CIS states and export to China is extremely small. You could fill a couple of containers in every train bound for China. It would generate good forex revenues,” Aleksandr Lukashenko pointed out.

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