Updated at 19:56,22-01-2021

Lukashenka announces “game-changing“ year for economy

By Tanya Korovenkova, BelaPAN

Alyaksandr Lukashenka said on Thursday that 2016 should become a «game-changing year» for the Belarusian economy.

While delivering his annual address to the nation and the legislature, Mr. Lukashenka said that it would not outline a «long-term strategy.» «It will be discussed at the coming Fifth All-Belarusian People's Assembly. Today we will discuss near-future goals and specific tasks for this year,» he said.

The pace of the Belarusian economy's development has slowed down in recent years, according to Mr. Lukashenka. Although «external factors» have contributed to that, Belarus should also acknowledge its own shortcomings, he noted. «We lag behind advanced countries as far as it concerns labor productivity, energy and materials consumption and eventually the competitiveness of our goods,» he said.

Mr. Lukashenka warned that this year would become a «serious test for all branches of government and government agencies.»

He directed that providers of services and manufactures should cut their costs to make their products more competitive, and referred to his edict that had ordered the cost of goods reduced by 25 percent.

Speaking about cost-cutting efforts, he suggested that companies stop buying materials and components from «unscrupulous intermediaries.»

He ordered the government to review and improve regulations governing foreign investment before September 1. The government should provide a «flexible» reaction to regulations that impede the attraction of foreign investment, he warned.

Belarus should draw at least $1.5 billion in foreign investment this year, he said.

Mr. Lukashenka urged the government to stop providing funding for projects that would not yield a return soon.