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19 February 2021, 12:07

Opinion: Belarusian economic model has proved effective

Mikhail Kovalev
Mikhail Kovalev

MINSK, 19 February (BelTA) - The Belarusian model of economic development has proved its worth, Professor of Belarusian State University, economist Mikhail Kovalev said during a meet-up of experts in BelTA's press center to discuss the results of the Belarusian People's Congress.

"As an economist, who experienced the Soviet Union and the economy in transition, I vote for the current model of economic development. Perhaps it needs some cosmetic improvements. But its main thing is social justice, which the president repeatedly emphasized in his address to the Belarusian People's Congress," Mikhail Kovalev said.

According to him, social stratification in Belarus is low. "It is 25% if we measure it using the so-called Gini coefficient. Together with Slovakia we share the third or fourth place out of 190 states. We are a tenth of a percent behind the Czech Republic and Slovenia. In Scandinavian countries such as Denmark and Sweden this ratio is 27%. This shows that we are a socially just state where all citizens enjoy equal rights and, as the president said, we will remain so in the future,” the professor said. In terms of gender equality, we are ranked 31st in the world. If someone measured the equality of religions, I think we would rank in the top three. Therefore, the main feature of our state is social justice, and it has helped the Belarusian economy to grow quite quickly."

Mikhail Kovalev stressed that the share of the small Belarusian state in the world economy was only 0.10% in 1995 and 0.17% in 2014. “Over 19 years we have increased our share in the world economy by 1.7 times. I made some calculations and compared the data of neighbors: the increase in the shares of Poland, Lithuania was much smaller. Indeed, Poles and Lithuanians are a little richer than us in terms of the so-called gross domestic product per capita. But the difference was the same in 1995. They started from higher positions. We were catching up,” he explained.

According to the expert, Belarus is an export-oriented economy. “Exports in 1995, the first year of the presidential republic, was only $5 billion. In 2012 the figures stood at $52 billion, increasing more than tenfold. Today, due to a drop in oil prices, it has shrunk a little. However, over 25 years our exports have increased 7 times.

"Therefore, the five-year plans to reach $50 billion in exports, regardless of oil prices, are achievable. So is the adjusted new strategy which says that our exports to the Eurasian Economic Union and Russia will slightly expand, too. We need to do our best to level off the trade deficit with Russia,” he said.

Mikhail Kovalev also talked about the smart country, one of the priorities of the future five-year plan. “The Belarusian biotechnology corporation is planning very good projects with China. Even in a difficult COVID-19 year, our agriculture rose almost 5%, our dairy and meat exports increased by almost 5% thanks to China. It is clear that we need the new types of fodder, which the biotechnology corporation is working on. The Hi-Tech Park, which has become one of the world's leading software developers, needs to continue its rapid growth ($2.5 billion). I am sure that this sector will also develop successfully. Probably we do not talk enough about such sector as transit of services, which has been growing nicely too. I will give you just one figure: when we switched to the presidential system, the export of transport services was as litle as $200 million. Today it stands at $4 billion. This is primarily thanks to ahalf a million containers transported from China to the European Union via our country. I think that the Belarusian model has proved its worth, and I hope it will be preserved in the future. It is clear, as the president said, that changes and adaptation to the situation are always necessary,” he concluded.

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