A Roadmap to Sta­bil­ity

Be­larus has out­lined a set of mea­sures to sta­bi­lize the fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion

Economy of Belarus - - CONTENTS - Ta­tiana POlEZHAI, Econ­omy of Be­larus Mag­a­zine

Be­larus has out­lined a set of mea­sures to sta­bi­lize the fi­nan­cial and

eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion

No Easy So­lu­tions

The head of state warned that there are no and can­not be easy and sim­ple anti-cri­sis so­lu­tions. “I would say the so­lu­tion has been spec­i­fied, but it is never easy for any coun­try that faces such hard­ships. If some­one hopes that to­mor­row we will get manna from heaven with a wave of a wand, he is deeply mis­taken,” the Pres­i­dent said.

Ac­cord­ing to Alexan­der Lukashenko, the govern­ment took its time to de­velop the ac­tion plan be­cause it waited for the re­sults of the so­cioe­co­nomic per­for­mance of the coun­try for H1. “We are not go­ing to ex­tremes. We have made the de­ci­sion tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion all the avail­able re­sources”, the head of state said.

The eco­nomic per­for­mance in H1 pro­vided a clear pic­ture of the sit­u­a­tion. The do­mes­tic econ­omy was fir­ing on all cylin­ders through the en­tire H1 2011, which was ac­knowl­edged by the global com­mu­nity. Over the seven months 2011, GDP grew by nearly 10%, al­most all the so­cial and eco­nomic tar­gets for 2011 were ful­filled, and the ex­port

the govern­ment of Be­larus has fi­nal­ized its fi­nan­cial and eco­nomic pol­icy. Within 1.5 to 2 months, the sit­u­a­tion on the currency mar­ket of Be­larus is ex­pected to re­turn to nor­malcy. the cri­sis man­age­ment plan de­vel­oped by the govern­ment and the national Bank was un­veiled by Be­larus Pres­i­dent alexan­der lukashenko on 30 au­gust.

of goods rose by 70% and ex­ceeded the growth in imports by 9%, for the first time in many years. “It sur­passed our ex­pec­ta­tions,” the head of state said.

More so, in Jan­uary-july 2011 the for­eign currency rev­enue reached its all-time high and amounted to $25 bil­lion, more than twice as much as in the most suc­cess­ful pre-cri­sis year of 2008. The Pres­i­dent noted that the coun­try had not seen such a for­eign currency in­flow be­fore. In May-july 2011, the for­eign currency sur­plus of Be­larus stood at $1 bil­lion. There is a steady ten­dency to bring the for­eign trade into a sur­plus po­si­tion. In July, the for­eign trade sur­plus neared $200 mil­lion…

“In re­cent months we learnt to live with­out spend­ing gold and for­eign currency re­serves. This has been achieved through an ad­justed macroe­co­nomic pol­icy rather than currency re­stric­tions,” the Pres­i­dent un­der­lined.

Alexan­der Lukashenko stated that be­sides boost­ing ex­port rev­enue, the coun­try is go­ing to raise at least $5 bil­lion in strate­gic in­vest­ments on ben­e­fi­cial terms. Other sources of for­eign currency rev­enue have been ex­plored, too. The Pres­i­dent be­lieves this will be enough.

The head of state ex­plained the true rea­son be­hind Be­larus’ eco­nomic woes.

Be­ing a so­cially ori­ented state, Be­larus took ad­van­tage of the fa­vor­able eco­nomic environment of the last five-year pe­riod to boost eco­nomic growth and im­prove the well-be­ing of peo­ple: the coun­try in­vested heav­ily in con­struc­tion, mod­ern­iza­tion of pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties, ad­dressed so­cial is­sues, raised salaries, pen­sions, and al­lowances. The coun­try cre­ated a solid foun­da­tion for the fur­ther eco­nomic ex­pan­sion. How­ever, when it was about to reap the ben­e­fits, the global cri­sis broke out in 2008. “The cri­sis eroded all our gains,” the Pres­i­dent ex­plained.

In 2010 the deficit in for­eign trade in goods and ser­vices reached 14% of GDP. In other words, Be­laru­sians con­sumed more than they pro­duced and sold. How­ever, the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct was in­vested mainly in the fur­ther eco­nomic growth, namely con­struc­tion, tech­no­log­i­cal up­grade and ren­o­va­tion of pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties. To­day our coun­try is the world’s leader in terms of in­vest­ment into de­vel­op­ment: in Be­larus the in­vest­ments into de­vel­op­ment ac­count for 40% of GDP, while in the CIS it makes only 20% and in the Euro­pean Union about 19%.

Tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion that Be­larus does not boast con­sid­er­able min­eral re­sources, it has to im­port many of them at in­creas­ing prices and vol­umes: oil, gas, raw ma­te­ri­als, com­po­nent parts, equip­ment. This con­trib­uted to the grow­ing deficit in for­eign trade in goods and ser­vices.

How­ever, most of the blame for the con­sid­er­able in­crease in the trade deficit goes to ex­ter­nal fac­tors. The Be­laru­sian Pres­i­dent noted that dol­lar and euro spec­u­la­tions on the global mar­ket pushed en­ergy prices to record lev­els. In­deed, over the last five years, the gas price for Be­larus soared five times, the oil price three times. “To­day we pay about $280 for 1,000 cu­bic me­ters of gas, al­most three times more than do­mes­tic con­sumers of Rus­sia, our ma­jor trad­ing part­ner. How can we com­pete in such con­di­tions?” the head of state asked. In his words, over half a year, the en­ergy price hike widened the gap in Be­larusRus­sia trade by an­other $1.5 bil­lion in­creas­ing Be­larus’ deficit. “The in­crease in prices for en­ergy, raw ma­te­ri­als and other things alone are go­ing to cost us about $2 bil­lion. The losses may be even big­ger,” the Pres­i­dent noted.

Ac­cord­ing to the head of state, the blame for Be­larus’ eco­nomic woes par­tially goes to mas­sive im­por­ta­tion of used for­eign cars since the start of the year. In H1 2011, over 260,000 cars were im­ported to the tune of about $2.2 bil­lion. “I am more than sure that this made $3 bil­lion or even more. A three­fold in­crease in car imports! Half of the coun­try’s trade deficit over this pe­riod,” Alexan­der Lukashenko said.

How­ever, the Be­laru­sian econ­omy keeps work­ing, although this year an­other $5 bil­lion will be taken out of it.

Ex­pert Eval­u­a­tion

Although the econ­omy op­er­ates nor­mally, the coun­try still lacks for­eign currency, mul­ti­ple ex­change rates have emerged, and the consumer mar­ket is shaken by oc­ca­sional short­ages.

A com­pre­hen­sive ex­pert eval­u­a­tion was car­ried out to come to grips with the sit­u­a­tion. The ex­perts stud­ied var­i­ous currency strate­gies, rec­om­men­da­tions of the Peo­ple’s Bank of China, the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund, sug­ges­tions of the Rus­sian Fed­er­a­tion, the National Academy of Sciences of Be­larus, and govern­ment ex­perts.

Three op­tions were put on the ta­ble. The first and eas­i­est one was to pre­serve the sta­tus quo. How­ever, time showed that this would not work. “While the pro­duc­tion sec­tor is demon­strat­ing some growth, the fi­nan­cial sec­tor and the currency mar­ket are ex­posed to grow­ing risks and mis­bal­ances, which will or might have a neg­a­tive im­pact on eco­nomic per­for­mance,” the Pres­i­dent said. Ex­perts be­lieve this op­tion is fraught with risks.

The sec­ond op­tion sug­gested main­tain­ing the fixed currency rate. Be­larus tried it, too. But the in­flex­i­ble currency con­trol can trig­ger an­other fi­nan­cial cri­sis. There­fore, ex­perts rule out the sec­ond op­tion, too.

The third op­tion was left. The ex­change rate should be de­ter­mined by sup­ply and de­mand.

This op­tion was backed by the Govern­ment, the National Bank, top ex­ec­u­tives and the ma­jor­ity of cit­i­zens.

“We have to fol­low ob­jec­tive eco­nomic laws,” the Pres­i­dent em­pha­sized.

Thus, an ac­tion plan to bal­ance out the sin­gle ex­change rate and main­tain so­cial guar­an­tees was de­vel­oped.

A Step-based Strat­egy

The State will stop sup­port­ing ar­ti­fi­cially the Be­laru­sian ru­ble. From now on the ru­ble ex­change rate will be shaped by sup­ply and de­mand on the mar­ket, and this is the ma­jor point of the plan.

At the same time Alexan­der Lukashenko or­dered the State Con­trol Com­mit­tee and law en­force­ment agen­cies “to put a for­mi­da­ble bar­rier to prof­i­teers who are now ar­ti­fi­cially in­flat­ing the sit­u­a­tion.” In ad­di­tion, the Pres­i­dent de­manded that the National Bank should mon­i­tor the sit­u­a­tion on a daily ba­sis and in­ter­vene when nec­es­sary, knock­ing down spec­u­la­tive at­tacks.

Cit­i­zens who wish to buy for­eign currency will be given such an op­por­tu­nity. To this end, the Pres­i­dent agreed with the pro­posal of the National Bank to hold an additional trad­ing ses­sion on the Be­laru­sian Currency and Stock Ex­change (BCSE) in mid-septem­ber, where any­one could buy and sell for­eign currency freely. Thus, the en­tire for­eign ex­change sup­ply and de­mand will be con­cen­trated at the BSCE.

Alexan­der Lukashenko in­structed Prime Min­is­ter Mikhail Myas­nikovich, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Sergei Ru­mas and Chair­per­son of the National Bank Nadezhda Yer­makova to ex­er­cise strict con­trol over the op­er­a­tion of the Currency and Stock Ex­change.

The pri­mary ses­sion will only sell the currency to set­tle the pay­ments for nat­u­ral gas and elec­tric­ity, and other im­me­di­ate pay­ments, which will re­strict the price growth.

To en­sure the nec­es­sary vol­ume of currency sales at the BSCE pri­mary ses­sion, the Pres­i­dent signed a de­cree to abol­ish the ben­e­fits to enterprises re­gard­ing the manda- tory sale of for­eign currency.

Af­ter the BCSE additional trad­ing ses­sion, all banks will be re­quired to ex­change for­eign cur­ren­cies at mar­ket rates, with­out any re­stric­tions.

“I in­vited the heads of vir­tu­ally all com­mer­cial banks for to­day’s meet­ing to make sure they know that they and the National Bank are en­tirely re­spon­si­ble for the on­go­ing ac­tiv­i­ties,” said the Pres­i­dent.

In ad­di­tion, the National Bank was in­structed to in­tro­duce, no later than Oc­to­ber, an elec­tronic record sys­tem for for­eign currency ex­change op­er­a­tions based on ID doc­u­ments. A sim­i­lar sys­tem ex­ists in many coun­tries, in­clud­ing Rus­sia.

The Pres­i­dent stressed that once the panic de­mand for the currency sub­sides, the ex­change rate will bal­ance out. Many states have gone through­sim­i­larprob­lems.ac­cord­ing to Alexan­der Lukashenko, Be­larus has the nec­es­sary re­sources to at­tain suc­cess in this mat­ter.

Ac­cord­ing to the es­ti­mates of the Govern­ment and the National Bank, it will not take much time for the ex­change rate to reach equi­lib­rium. “Thus, the ex­change rate will be based on mar­ket prin­ci­ples, which both busi­nesses and house­hold are ea­ger to see,” summed up the Pres­i­dent.

As for de­posits, ev­ery­body who wishes will have an op­por­tu­nity to con­vert ru­ble-de­nom­i­nated sav­ings into for­eign currency.

How­ever, Alexan­der Lukashenko ad­vised against con­vert­ing the de­posits. Ac­cord­ing to him, banks now of­fer very high re­turns on de­posits in Be­laru­sian rubles. In the near fu­ture they will be even higher. Thus, the State will sup­port the national currency and take re­spon­si­bil­ity for it.

“You may do as you please. You are en­ti­tled to it. But look what is hap­pen­ing with the euro and the dol­lar. To­day, no­body knows what to do with all that printed green pa­per. Ev­ery­body started talk­ing about re­ces­sion. You may be left with your euros and dol­lars in your pock­ets, un­der a pil­low, un­der mat­tresses, in garages, bank cells. But then do not blame us for not warn­ing you,” the head of state said.

“We are re­spon­si­ble for the national currency. And we will sup­port it in ev­ery pos­si­ble way,” said Alexan­der Lukashenko.

The Pres­i­dent stressed that no re­stric­tions will be im­posed on with­drawal of de­posits. “There are no plans to freeze de­posits. This will not hap­pen! I em­pha­size in par­tic­u­lar: there is noth­ing to be afraid of. Although our “fifth col­umn” would be happy to see us take this move and trem­ble with fear. I would like to say to all these per­son­al­i­ties: In your dreams!” said the head of state.

The Pres­i­dent also in­structed the National Bank to cre­ate such eco­nomic con­di­tions so that peo­ple could ea­gerly bring their money to banks. Ac­cord­ing to es­ti­mates of the National Bank, over $7 bil­lion is in the hands of the pop­u­la­tion.

“I am will­ing to con­sider the amnesty of cap­i­tal if it helps the cause,” stressed the Pres­i­dent.

Along with the ex­change pol­icy mea­sures, Alexan­der Lukashenko de­manded that the National Bank and the Govern­ment should stop emis­sions. “All con­struc­tion and other projects should be funded from healthy non-emis­sion sources,” he said.

Think­ing about the Fu­ture

At the same time, the Pres­i­dent stressed that the fi­nan­cial prob­lems are not the only con­cern for the Govern­ment. “This prob­lem will go away next year top. Life will go on. I once again em­pha­size, the Govern­ment must think about how to build, to mod­ern­ize, to cre­ate, and how to move for­ward. This is your main task,” Alexan­der Lukashenko said ad­dress­ing the govern­ment mem­bers.

“Yes, we seem to be do­ing all of this. But we be­came un­thrifty. We have started think­ing money comes out of thin air. And it turns out that money must be earned,” the Pres­i­dent added.

The head of state em­pha­sized the need for more ac­tive ef­forts on im­port sub­sti­tu­tion. “The goods we can pro­duce must be man­u­fac­tured at home,” said the Pres­i­dent. Per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity for im­port sub­sti­tu­tion ef­forts rests with First Vice Premier Vladimir Se­mashko.

In ad­di­tion, Alexan­der Lukashenko warned the Fi­nance Min­is­ter, the chair­men of the oblast ex­ec­u­tive com­mit­tees and Minsk City Hall of the need to ex­e­cute both the national and lo­cal bud­gets, strictly within the range of rev­enue. “If there is money in the bud­get, then use it. If there is no money, look for it your­self. Do not come to me ask­ing for more,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent also de­manded to re­store proper or­der in the bank­ing sys­tem. In his opinion, to­day there is too much lax­ity and greed in the sys­tem. Of­ten it is the bank­ing sys­tem that feeds alarmist mis­in­for­ma­tion to the pop­u­la­tion. The Pres­i­dent in­structed the KGB, the State Con­trol Com­mit­tee, law en­force­ment agen­cies to take the mat­ter un­der con­trol. “I want you to re­port to me on ev­ery such case, even the small­est one. Mea­sures will be taken im­me­di­ately against bank man­agers,” the Pres­i­dent warned.

The Pres­i­dent in­structed the National Bank to or­ga­nize work in such a way as to dis­cour­age peo­ple from vi­o­lat­ing laws. “Po­lice should catch thieves and crooks, but not in­ter­fere in the life of good cit­i­zens,” said the head of state.

An­other most im­por­tant task is to re­turn the for­eign currency earn­ings to the coun­try. “To­day it is nearly $5 bil­lion. We sold the goods worth $5 bil­lion. Yet no pay­ments have ar­rived into the coun­try. The money is out some­where. Some­one is liv­ing on it,” the Pres­i­dent said. He or­dered the Prime Min­is­ter to re­turn half of that amount to the coun­try by the end of the year: “Your task is to make sure the ac­counts re­ceiv­ables do not ex­ceed $2 bil­lion by the year-end. Then we will put ef­fort to re­duce it. Let the min­is­ters push en­ter­prise man­agers to work harder on re­turn­ing the money to the coun­try. Please take this mat­ter un­der con­trol!” Alexan­der Lukashenko added that the de­cree in this re­gard has been al­ready signed.

“The State Con­trol Com­mit­tee and law en­force­ment agen­cies must en­sure strict ap­pli­ca­tion of the most strin­gent mea­sures, re­gard­less of rank and past ac­com­plish­ments. The National Bank and the govern­ment should not grant per­mits to ex­tend the dead­lines for currency trans­ac­tions!” stressed the Pres­i­dent.

All laws and reg­u­la­tions pro­hibit­ing the State Con­trol Com­mit­tee and law en­force­ment agen­cies from con­duct­ing au­dits have been sus­pended un­til the end of the year. The move is aimed to sta­bi­lize the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion.

Alexan­der Lukashenko stressed the need for greater dis­ci­pline in work­place. “There should be no democ­racy in work­place but dic­ta­tor­ship of tech­nol­ogy and iron dis­ci­pline! This is the way work is or­ga­nized in civ­i­lized coun­tries, in­clud­ing pri­vate com­pa­nies,” he said.

The Pres­i­dent also asked the di­rec­tors of com­pa­nies not to lay

off peo­ple in this dif­fi­cult pe­riod. “Yet, they should pun­ish dis­ci­pline vi­o­la­tors and slack­ers, drunk­ards and undis­ci­plined peo­ple. No pity for such peo­ple! You have a job, you do it well,” said Alexan­der Lukashenko.

“The mar­ket econ­omy does not mean you can do what­ever you want. The top of­fi­cials and gov­er­nors are per­son­ally re­spon­si­ble for ef­fi­ciency of pub­lic spend­ing at enterprises and in re­spec­tive re­gions. No statute of lim­i­ta­tions here,” warned the head of state.

State Sup­port

The state has also elab­o­rated so­cial se­cu­rity mea­sures, first of all for low-in­come in­di­vid­u­als.

Thus, the Pres­i­dent or­dered to chan­nel the ex­cess prof­its as­so­ci­ated with price rises into so­cial se­cu­rity pro­grams. This ap­plies both to bud­get-fi­nanced and also com­mer­cial or­ga­ni­za­tions. “Healthy busi­nesses, man­u­fac­tur­ers, and in­di­vid­u­als have to re­al­ize that they have to lend a hand to the state,” Alexan­der Lukashenko said.

All the ex­cess prof­its will be ac­cu­mu­lated in a spe­cial fund and dis­trib­uted among large low-in­come fam­i­lies in the first place.

Alexan­der Lukashenko also re­minded busi­ness­men of their so­cial re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. “All sole traders and busi­ness­men have to un­der­stand that this is their coun­try,” the Pres­i­dent said. The state did the pri­vate sec­tor a fa­vor by im­ple­ment­ing fun­da­men­tal pro­vi­sions of Di­rec­tive No.4 in H1 2011, namely, free price for­ma­tion, ad­vi­sory rate sched­ule, i.e. dis­cre­tionary de­ter­mi­na­tion of wages and other mone­tary in­cen­tives, re­duc­tion of the num­ber li­cens­able eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties.

The Pres­i­dent em­pha­sized that the liv­ing stan­dards have to be pre­served at the same level by all means. “We must make sure real in­comes of peo­ple do not fall,” he said.

One-time pay­ments will be made to sup­port the pop­u­la­tion. Thus, the pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees will get a Br500,000 bonus. Those work­ing in the real pro­duc­tion sec­tor will not be over­looked, ei­ther. These pay­ments will be made as early as Septem­ber.

Be­sides, the state will con­tinue ful­fill­ing its legally bind­ing com­mit­ments on in­dexed pay­ments. Then, the first class wage rate for pub­lic sec­tor em­ploy­ees will be in­creased.

All the com­mer­cial en­ti­ties should fol­low suit and raise salaries, the Pres­i­dent stressed.

Child sup­port al­lowances will be in­creased on a quar­terly ba­sis. In Q4 the one-time al­lowance for the birth of a child is planned to be dou­bled.

Re­tired pen­sion­ers will not be left be­hind, ei­ther. They will get a Br500,000 bonus as well.

As of 1 Novem­ber 2011 la­bor pen­sions will be in­dexed fol­low­ing the in­creases in the Q3 av­er­age wages. Given the re­cent in­creases in av­er­age wages the pen­sions will go up sig­nif­i­cantly as well.

The bud­get sets aside about Br70 bil­lion for the most vul­ner­a­ble groups of peo­ple. No one will be left be­hind, Alexan­der Lukashenko em­pha­sized.

To Strengthen Con­trol

It goes with­out say­ing that ev­ery item of the plan is a se­ri­ous chal­lenge that re­quires con­tin­u­ous ef­forts. There­fore, Alexan­der Lukashenko tasked the State Con­trol Com­mit­tee and law en­force­ment bod­ies to ex­er­cise daily and even

hourly con­trol over the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan.

In par­tic­u­lar, the state sec­re­tary of the Se­cu­rity Coun­cil has been charged to con­trol and co­or­di­nate ac­tiv­i­ties of all the law en­force­ment bod­ies re­lated to main­tain­ing or­der, dis­ci­pline and car­ry­ing out mea­sures that are in their terms of ref­er­ence.

In case there are dif­fi­cul­ties with the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the plan, the most com­pli­cated is­sues will be brought to the at­ten­tion of the head of state.

Alexan­der Lukashenko also ex­pressed in­ter­est in the sit­u­a­tion in the re­gions. The heads of re­gional and Minsk city ad­min­is­tra­tions noted that the re­gional economies were rapidly de­vel­op­ing that year.

None­the­less, Gov­er­nor of Vitebsk Oblast Alexan­der Kosinets sug­gested that sci­en­tists should be ac­tively in­volved in im­port-sub­sti­tu­tion ef­forts. Be­sides he deems it nec­es­sary to dou­ble wages in or­der to off­set the in­creases in prices for consumer goods and align the in­comes of the Be­laru­sians with those of the Rus­sians. The Pres­i­dent replied that the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tions have to ex­plore ev­ery pos­si­bil­ity to raise wages.

Gov­er­nor of Grodno Oblast Se­myon Shapiro sug­gested con­sid­er­ing lower taxes for enterprises that boosted exports. He also em­pha­sized the need to re­duce the share of im­ported com­po­nents in Be­laru­sian goods. Se­myon Shapiro also sug­gested that the shares of com­pa­nies of­fered to for­eign in­vestors should be avail­able for sale to the work­ers as well.

Chair­man of the Minsk Oblast Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee Boris Batura also spoke in fa­vor of elab­o­rat­ing mea­sures to boost exports.

“To­day as never be­fore we have to en­gage our ad­min­is­tra­tive re­sources to adopt the course, which we have been speak­ing about, in an or­derly and most vig­or­ous man­ner. How­ever the ad­min­is­tra­tive re­sources and pres­sure can­not be ap­plied to solve eco­nomic is­sues. This is par­tially the rea­son for to­day’s prob­lems. Now we are deal­ing with the con­se­quences of our ac­tions. We tried to pres­sur­ize ad­min­is­tra­tively, with­out tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion eco­nomic laws, es­pe­cially in what re­gards money and fi­nances. There­fore we have to do every­thing ra­tio­nally and you know how to do it,” the head of state said.

Alexan­der Lukashenko em­pha­sized that the gov­er­nors and Minsk mayor would be the first to be called to ac­count. “Stick to what we have agreed on and ex­plain the mea­sures to peo­ple,” the Pres­i­dent said. “I have done my part here,” he added.

The head of state stressed that there would be no more for­eign loans. “What­ever the sit­u­a­tion, we will act de­pend­ing on the de­mand and sup­ply. Do not ex­pect us to bor­row in or­der to main­tain a cer­tain ex­change rate.”

Alexan­der Lukashenko be­lieves that un­der the cir­cum­stances the mass me­dia tools should be fully en­gaged to ex­plain the real eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion to the peo­ple. “Ev­ery­one has to readapt be it mass me­dia, bankers or oth­ers. Do not be offended by my harsh words. We can­not make some peo­ple work hard and let oth­ers ruin their ef­forts,” the Pres­i­dent de­clared.

“There­fore let us be clear. We will act as one. And we will prove to ev­ery­one who wants to bring us down that we are a mono­lith and we can stand up to any chal­lenge. We have every­thing we need to solve these is­sues,” the head of state said.

He stressed that his tough de­mands re­main un­changed and that they have to be fol­lowed through. “Other­wise we will not solve any­thing. We have set our course and now let us fol­low it. But I re­peat, you can­not stop life! You have to look into the fu­ture, you have to see perspectives,” the Pres­i­dent said.

“I am sure that by join­ing our ef­forts we will over­come these tem­po­rary dif­fi­cul­ties and con­tinue our pro­gres­sive de­vel­op­ment”, Alexan­der Lukashenko stressed.

“This will be an ad­e­quate re­sponse to all those who say that the Be­laru­sian model has ex­hausted it­self. There can be and will be no de­vi­a­tion from the course that we have out­lined and that has been ap­proved at the All-be­larus Peo­ple’s Congress. Our state is for peo­ple. And we have to make our ut­most to en­sure that peo­ple live de­cent lives,” the Pres­i­dent stated.

The ex­change rate of the Be­laru­sian ru­ble will be de­ter­mined by sup­ply and de­mand, Pres­i­dent of Be­larus Alexan­der Lukashenko said at the govern­ment ses­sion held on 30 Au­gust to dis­cuss so­cial and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment

The ex­change

rate of the national currency is de­ter­mined by trade re­sults of the Be­laru­sian Currency and Stock Ex­change

Im­por­tant in­vest­ment projects will not be frozen in Be­larus. In par­tic­u­lar, the first startup com­plex of Minsk’s cen­tral bus sta­tion has been com­mis­sioned

The govern­ment

con­tin­ues pro­vid­ing tar­geted

so­cial aid to cit­i­zens of Be­larus

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