Gomel Oblast needs new drivers of economic growth, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at a conference with Gomel Oblast officials, BelTA has learned.
"In the first decade after the Chernobyl accident we literally fought for survival. In recent years our focus has been on development: returning agricultural land into economic use, construction of dairy and pig farms, setting up efficient industrial enterprises. You cannot complain about the lack of attention. There is not a single place in your region, big or small, that I have not visited and has not ordered the construction of woodworking, processing, pulp or oil refineries," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
A lot has been done in Gomel Oblast. Industrially it is one of the most developed regions, the president noted. "We need to look, or even better to create, new drivers of economic growth in the region," the president stressed.
Therefore, the head of state said, it was decided to skip the traditional "Chernobyl" visit and to hold a working meeting on the situation in the region "to discuss where Gomel Oblast is moving, what it is lacking, how we can help. Our conversation should be extremely specific, honest and businesslike," Aleksandr Lukashenko said.
According to the president, the region's Q1 results are far from what was expected. In terms of economic development, the region ranks fourth among all regions.
Although the manufacturing sector did well, the head of state noted. It posted the growth of 4.5%, well above about 2% nationwide. But this is largely the contribution of national organizations (their share is about 80%), Aleksandr Lukashenko explained.
"In agriculture, you are lagging behind, ranking last among the country's regions. I was reported on the progress of spring field work, land reclamation, and restoration of depreciated equipment. But we need to talk about something else. You seem to be doing relatively well, but you know the saying: do not count chickens before they are hatched. In November 2022 we held a meeting to discuss the strategy for the development of the agro-industrial complex of the region. We got priorities straight, agreed on approaches, and heard the officials' promises to work hard and with full commitment,” the president said.
However, a little has been done so far, he said. The head of state asked about the progress in the work and whether there were any issues preventing the implementation of the agreements.
“We are trying to solve many problems by enlarging or joining farms to powerful industrial enterprises. What is the effect of this? You should see it already. What about other productions? How do you support them? There are issues that need to be solved,” Aleksandr Lukashenko said. “It is good that you are consolidating farms, making them larger (dairy farms, of course) and providing them with new equipment. But if you join two poorly-performing farms, you know that you should not expect them to perform well.”
During his helicopter trip over Gomel Oblast the president inspected the farms, fields, construction sites, facilities and roads from above. “There is uncollected straw and organics overgrown with grass. Idle buildings and structures are many. There is still no proper order. And we are unlikely to see any order this year, either. I am also reported that there is still a practice of window dressing and hiding the real figures of livestock mortality,” the president shared the impressions of what he had seen.
For example, livestock mortality has doubled in Yelnya District. The situation is similar in Dobrush District and Lelchitsy District. Calf mortality in the region has reached almost 4,000 head over the past three months. “How long do we need to teach staff, help them to master the basics? There is no need to teach anyone here: everyone knows how to do it. But for some reason it is not done. As for Lelchitsy, I have given instructions to sort out things with every facility and every project in the Lelchitsy industrial park. Some of them include neighboring districts. We discuss things a lot, consult, hold meetings in the government. But for some reason things do not go further than words. Or is it an unpromising area? I will listen to your suggestions in this regard,” the head of state said.