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Lukashenko in favor of golden mean in agribusiness policy

MINSK (BelTA) – It is necessary to find the golden mean in agrarian policy. Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko made the statement at the government conference held on 10 June to discuss draft decrees meant to improve the agrarian policy, BelTA has learned.

The President admitted that agriculture had secured considerable gross production and export figures, however, the state of economy in this sphere and the pace of agricultural production development raise justified concerns.

Four draft decrees have been prepared and submitted for consideration of the head of state as a result of the work done by the interagency taskforce led by the prime minister to resolve agriculture problems. “Let's hope the four draft decrees are not a formality. I would like to hear whether these four legal acts are sufficient for ensuring more or less calm performance of Belarusian agriculture,” said the President.

The legal acts are designed to improve the agrarian policy of the Belarusian state. They primarily target measures of state support for agricultural producers, government purchases, monetary management policy in the industry, the restructuring of the existing debt, and the optimization of the organization structure. Apart from that, the draft decrees suggest greatly reducing interest rates on loans available to Belarusian agricultural enterprises.

“The wish is understandable and is justified to a large extent by peculiarities of agribusiness. But I would like to stress once again. Do these proposals represent the golden mean that satisfies all the parties concerned?” said the President.

The head of state pointed out that the banking industry may have to bear additional burdens if the measures to restructure the credit debt of agricultural enterprises are adopted. “Let me underline that the debts must not be written off although some people would just love that. We need the debts restructured for a comparatively small and reasonable period. And payments on these loans will have to be made during this period. We are not going to postpone these payments and write off the debts later,” assured the President. Alexander Lukashenko asked those present whether the measure would shake the stability of the banks that work with agriculture. “On the other hand, do our banks do everything to improve the life of farmers?” the head of state asked Chairwoman of the Board of the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus (NBRB) Nadezhda Yermakova.

According to the President, not everything is clear with regard to the compensation of the losses that manufacturers bear due to the disparity of prices for the industrial products that farmers need and for the agricultural products that farmers sell. The President believes that the state budget may face additional considerable burdens. “Do we have the capacity to implement the measure? The solution may be too expensive. Maybe preventing the so-called disparity is easier?” the head of state asked the government. Alexander Lukashenko said he wanted considered answers to those questions.

Alexander Lukashenko said he believes that requiring processing enterprises to pay up to 30% in advance for the raw materials they get from farmers may be difficult to accomplish. It is true for cereals, meat and dairy products, fruits and vegetables. The President stressed that it is necessary to try and reach the goal but he was concerned about the ability of processing enterprises to instantaneously start doing so. The President said he wanted oblast governors to give the answer.

“There is another legitimate question. Are the measures stipulated by the draft decrees sufficient to improve the economic state and stability of agricultural enterprises?” the President asked those present.

Alexander Lukashenko reminded that after the agricultural problems were discussed for the first time, he wanted proposals of the interagency taskforce to be discussed widely in the regions, with practitioners giving answers. The head of state was interested in results of these discussions.

“If we go ahead with these decrees, we have to be sure they are effective. Caution is the parent of safety,” stressed the President. “We have to once again weigh all pros and cons and make the right decisions”.

Alexander Lukashenko warned that the government conference will be the last one before a major government session is held to discuss problems of Belarusian agriculture the way it was done to discuss problems of the development of the Belarusian civil engineering industry. After that a similar government conference will be held to discuss problems of the housing and public utilities industry.