Bagdankevich: Selling Belaruskali is a crime
"Privatization should be started from small enterprises, from loss-making sector, but not from that, which profitability is almost 100%", former head of the National Bank Stanislav Bagdankevich commented on President's statement made at a meeting on the development of potash industry in the country.
Today Alexander Lukashenko started the next round of trading, in order to sale "the family silver of the Belarusian economy". At first he traditionally said the state had no plans to sell anything: "If we talk about privatization of Belaruskali we are absolutely not in a hurry. We don't need to sell this company - not a single share, nor ten or a hundred". But he immediately added that "if anyone wants to participate in purchasing of shares, then - you are welcome - we are ready to engage in dialogue". The president even called the price of the most attractive national enterprise - $30 billion.
Such rhetoric has become traditional for Lukashenko. From the one hand, the country must "save its face" and avoid "the bandit like privatization", on the other - the current economic model and demands to increase the GDP in 2012 to 5.5% require huge funds.
In an interview with UDF.BY the former head of the National Bank Stanislav Bagdankevich told about economic importance of Belaruskali for the national economy and urged the president not to chase after a short-term benefit in order to maintain the system, which cannot be saved already.
Bagdankevich draws attention to the fundamental difference between the sale of Beltransgaz, which is valuable only because of the transit of Russian gas, and Belaruskali, which is a single getter of a valuable mineral in Belarus:
"Potassium salts is the only great wealth, which Belarus has. So one shouldn't bargain on a possible price of this asset. Belaruskali is a national property. It is beneficial as a hard source of currency, the country needs it to pay for imports. So the statement: "put 30 billion on a table, and I'll sell it to you"- is a criminal squandering of national wealth. I would like to remind, that the state-owned enterprises are publicly owned, which means - by the people, and not personally by Alexander Lukashenko".
In addition, Bagdankevich says, the potash industry is the guarantor of at least some macroeconomic stability, which is so necessary now in Belarus:
"When profitability of the enterprise amounts to 80-90%, when the price of a tonne of potash salt has grown by nearly one hundred dollars for a year, when there is a steady demand in India, and in Europe, and in China, and products are sold everywhere with equal success, it is impossible to sell such assets, they should remain in public ownership as a guarantor of economic stability. I say this as a big liberal, who generally stands for a large-scale privatization".
Former head of the National Bank also says, that now is not the best time for privatization of large industrial enterprises, and the government is better to focus on sales of less expensive assets:
"Privatization of large industrial units today is not profitable for Belarus. The world is in the financial crisis now. Except the oligarchic Russian capital, no one will come in our territory. Because of the crisis, the economic image of Belarus and other factors. So now we must think about the privatization of small and primarily medium-sized enterprises, loss-making enterprises, rather than those which profitability is nearly 100%", the expert summed up.