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Lukashenko: Council for Entrepreneurship Development fails to generate bright ideas

MINSK, 26 February (BelTA) – President of the Republic of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko stated with regret that the Council for Entrepreneurship Development has not become a powerhouse of brilliant ideas and “a locomotive” of dynamic growth. Alexander Lukashenko made the statement at the government session held on 26 February to discuss the operation of the Council for Entrepreneurship Development in Belarus, BelTA has learned.

“Over nearly ten years the previous composition of the Council has not fulfilled my major task – to become a direct link between the business and the government,” the President said.

“Judge for yourself. I am holding a package of documents detailing the work of the Council since its establishment in 1999. When you read it, you get an impression that a lot has been done: regular meetings with representatives of the private sector, seminars, roundtable and “square-table” sessions to discuss topical issues, analytical reports to the government and other government agencies, a great number of publications in scientific journals, media appearances, annual examination of regulations, and so on”, the head of state said. However, they failed to do the most important thing, the task that was set at the first session of the Council of the previous composition – to submit their proposals directly, including suggestions to optimize legislation and operation of the entire business community, to keep in touch with entrepreneurs.

Alexander Lukashenko underlined that the Council for Entrepreneurship Development should have been optimized and “shaken”.

The head of state noted that this is virtually the only council set up under the auspices of the President. He explained why he agreed to give the green light to the establishment of this Council: “Things got very confusing, there were many people from law enforcement bodies and government agencies who wanted to give “protection” to you and line their pockets. It was pretty common back then; I guess, things have changed by now. Anyway, I was not happy about the situation. There were many people who wanted to intimidate, harass and jail businessmen. That was totally unacceptable for the state. That was why it was important for me to help newcomers fit into the policy that had only one objective: to make life easier for you and people who work with you. I wanted everything to be fair and honest. You better know what is going on in the business community; you should have updated me on that.” The head of state noted that he did not get this information from entrepreneurs. “Therefore I had to appoint a person who was close to me and who could voice his position openly and honestly, even if it was different from the opinions of the rest,” the President said.

Alexander Lukashenko noted that businessmen are not those people who need overprotection. “You are not disabled or pensioners. You started you business in a bid to get your place in the sun, work for yourself, make good money, pay taxes, so that the government could keep going and help those who cannot earn as much as you do. Nobody says that you should be stripped of everything you have. Therefore, let us be generous. This does not mean that we should give away money to someone just for nothing. Everybody should work. But if you see that you can help an orphanage, support sports, healthcare and education, the things that are essential for us, let us team up to help them,” the President said. “You cannot accuse me of forcing businessmen to help the state. If you can do it, then do it, if you cannot – that is up to you. This will determine the attitude of the state and me towards you,” the President added. He noted that he is “equally close” to everyone: businessmen, non-businessmen, everyone who wants to do good for the country”. “Therefore, if you have projects that might benefit the country, go ahead, my door is always open. I will help,” Alexander Lukashenko said. “Lobbying someone’s interests to make it easier for someone is unacceptable,” the President warned.