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President visited Minsk Leather Production Association in Gatovo

            On March 23, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko visited the Minsk Leather Production Association. The head of state asked the management of the enterprise what is the area of the plant. According to the general director Olga Politiko, the enterprise is located on the territory of 27 hectares, but today half of the territory is not used. There are empty and unusable buildings.

Alexander Lukashenko asked the governor of Minsk region Alexander Turchin and his assistant Alexander Kosints why the issue with these territories has not yet been resolved. After all, the task was set back in 2014 during the last visit to the plant by the President. “Why hasn't this issue been resolved?” – asked the Head of State.

The opinions of the management of the enterprise and officials differed: some advocate the demolition of buildings and the release of land for new production, someone believes that the old workshops need to be modernized and thus expand the tannery. But there is no final decision.

Alexander Lukashenko demanded to deal with the issue and put things in order in this territory so that the land would not be lost.

At the enterprise, the Head of State was informed about the state and prospects for the development of the leather industry as a whole, as well as the development strategy of the plant itself.

Several years ago, a large-scale modernization was carried out here, but, as it turned out, the results that the enterprise was focused on were not achieved. This was also greatly influenced by the market conditions. In previous years, domestic footwear manufacturers had big plans for the production of products, which was what the tannery in Gatovo was counting on. However, these plans were not fulfilled, and accordingly, the company sold less leather than expected. In general, Belarusian producers prefer foreign raw materials. Alexander Lukashenko stressed that leather production is the most important branch of the economy, and it cannot be ruined.



Tatiana Luhina, chairman of Bellegprom concern, admitted that the industry is not efficient enough. In her opinion, the main problem is in the «insufficient competencies» of managers.

According to Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Nazarov, there is a proposal to create a leather and footwear production and trade holding under the auspices of one of the manufacturers. This will solve all the problems of the Gatovo plant. «We have 78 leather consumers. And you want to give the raw materials to one. Where is fair competition here?» – Alexander Lukashenko asked.

Olga Politiko, General Director of the Minsk Leather Production Association, stated that the enterprise can provide domestic consumers with raw materials. But the development of the plant is hindered by over Br8 million of debts to meat processing plants for the supplied raw materials.

At the enterprise, the President got acquainted with the technological processes of the production of leather goods, samples of manufactured products and finished products from it. Then the head of state held an meeting at the plant.

«The time has come to respond – you are making proposals that exclude the decisions made. None of the instructions have been fulfilled» noted Alexander Lukashenko. – This is the industry – in one enterprise. Here it is necessary to process all the skins that are in Belarus. Have you reworked? – No. Have you provided leather goods for footwear, furniture, haberdashery and so on? Not provided».



Returning to the proposals of the Government, the President suggested not to obscure – it is about the privatization of the enterprise. The head of state recalled that before selling the plant, it is necessary to coordinate this decision with the labor collective, and then with the local authorities. Then the documents are sent to the Government, where an appropriate decision is made. Then it is submitted for consideration to the President and he approves or does not approve it.

However, the workers of the plant in Gatovo voted against the sale of the enterprise, the district executive committee and the regional executive committee also found comments on the project. «In our opinion, an investor is needed for this enterprise, but the sale to one of the market players limits competition,» – explained the Governor of the Minsk Region Alexander Turchin.

«There can be no privatization of this enterprise. Processing of raw hides is a strategic branch of our country» – Alexander Lukashenko stressed. He noted that appropriate attention should be paid to this direction in the economy.

«We cannot, no matter how good a person is, give all the raw materials to the same hands. You understand what this can lead to» – the President added. Moreover, according to him, the conditions were not the best for the enterprise and the state.

Earlier, the Government came up with a proposal to privatize the plant in Gatovo. In his opinion, this was the only way to solve the problems at the enterprise. It was planned that production would go to Belwest.

Alexander Lukashenko, having heard the opinions of all interested parties, instructed the Government to provide the necessary support to the Gatovo plant so that it could concentrate on its work. To do this, you need to support the company financially: allocate about Br 8-9 million for the payment of overdue debts to meat processing plants for the supplied leather raw materials, as well as $ 2.5 million for the construction of treatment facilities – without solving this issue, the enterprise will not be able to function normally. «You have to understand that this is our enterprise, and the skins it buys are also from our enterprises» – the Head of State said.

«I will come in a year, and God forbid, this song will be preserved» –the President warned.

The company will not get the money for nothing: the plant has taken on tough obligations. «You must process 80% (hides. – approx.) To meet the needs of footwear, furniture makers, haberdashery» – stressed Alexander Lukashenko.

The head of state said that he makes decisions based on two interests – the welfare of citizens and the building of a strong state. «Believe me, I have never shown any personal interests. I have no «golden bottom», there is nothing – all lies, these are pictures. I had only one thing: for ordinary people to have something from our projects. And the second is the state. We have succeeded as a state. I cannot ditch him. These are my interests» – Alexander Lukashenko stressed. The President noted that, based on these requirements, he is ready to support various projects and enterprises.

During the meeting, the Head of State heard reports on the work of other tanneries and the development of this industry in the country as a whole. He asked what questions still remain and what solutions are needed. Responsible officials were given appropriate instructions.

One of the problems of the leather industry is the high import of raw materials. The same domestic footwear manufacturers do not like Belarusian leather. In total, there are about 80 enterprises in the country that use this raw material in their production. The President instructed to form a kind of association from meat processing plants – suppliers of raw hides, processors and enterprises – consumers of leather. Manufacturers of leather goods should direct the factory in Gatovo to produce the products they need and which would suit them in all respects, in order to eventually switch to the consumption of domestic raw materials.

«This week invite all consumers to the Government, create a «corporation». Their task is to get the head of this enterprise (a tannery in Gatovo — approx.) To do what they need. But at the same time, they must come to the conclusion that they consume only Belarusian raw materials within a year» – stressed Alexander Lukashenko.

At the same time, he recalled the requirements for the eradication of mediation and his tough approaches to this problem.

«And the last thing, on the topic of the day. Everyone wants authority. This decision of the Government and the governor should have been (on the leather factory in Gatovo. — approx.). You want authority, but you are not responsible. You should have worked out this issue deeply in the Government and made proposals. And forget: «Ah, now we'll see how she does it or not». From the labor collective, the chairman of the district executive committee to the Government, it is hard to control everything» – the President summed up.

Later, at a meeting with employees of the Minsk Leather Production Association, Alexander Lukashenko explained his decision and revealed some details of the proposed transaction. “The question is that your raw materials are consumed by 78 enterprises in Belarus: clothing, footwear and so on. The government makes an offer to sell you to one of them. Will this be true for the other 77? No. I believe: the person came with good intentions. This is today, and tomorrow, when he is the owner, he will dictate his terms to other enterprises. This is no longer equal competition» – the Head of State noted.



Alexander Lukashenko noted that if the state fails to cope with some enterprise, then it is possible to go for privatization. But in this case, this is not necessary. «The state can solve the remaining problems here», the President said. – They asked to privatize the enterprise and provide huge benefits – this means that they will not pay taxes. And the benefits are equal to the amount that we have to invest in modernization. What's the point? Therefore, all decisions have been made so that you can work».

«Try to work and keep this enterprise in your hands. Your children are not expected anywhere. Therefore, make a good enterprise so that your children can work here and receive a normal salary» – added the Head of State.

Answering the question of one of the employees of the enterprise about the import of raw hides, Alexander Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that it is necessary to take certain measures to protect one's own market carefully so as not to harm partnerships with other states. So, if you prohibit the supply of a particular product to Belarus, for example, from Russia or Turkey, then they can give a mirror answer in relation to the exported Belarusian goods. «Therefore, keep in mind: you have to tune in to competition. This (protection of the domestic market from imports. — approx.), you know, is such a double-edged weapon. I know how they can answer. And we are not a colossus. We are Central Europe a small state» – the Belarusian leader emphasized.



The employees of the plant also thanked the President for resolving the issue of reconstruction of the treatment facilities. «We have to solve this problem. This is the main thing. People live in Gatovo. Therefore, this is a very important state issue. We will slowly take the first step this year. And then we will constantly work, because there is a lot of money» – said the Head of State.

Alexander Lukashenko assured that other issues raised by citizens, for example, housing, will also be resolved. «You have a commitment to work. This is already good. Before my arrival, a lot of people were like here. And they painted all your moods for me. You have a good team. Therefore, you should help, because one day you will return it in full – with taxes and so on, – the President noted. – We agreed that the governor will help you build housing, as much as we can, we will transfer the rent, and then you hire people: if they will work for you, they will live in the house. Therefore, in this regard, it is necessary to provide support. Yes, you can take people by bus from somewhere, but if you think about collecting all the costs, it will be more expensive for your company than building a house. That is, we have made a comprehensive decision».

The question of one of the workers concerned the calls of a number of environmentalists to abandon the use of natural leather and fur in favor of artificial materials. «Are you ready to replace natural shoes with artificial ones today? I am not ready. Here I have Marco boots. I only wear their shoes. Fabric – «Kamvol». The coat was made here – Belarusian. Listen, great quality. And we will produce natural footwear» – the Head of State said.

As for the appeals of environmentalists and animal defenders, Alexander Lukashenko stated that people will not give up eating meat, and accordingly, there will be skins that need to be processed. «We are from this leather, since we eat beef, we will sew shoes» – he said.

«Nobody will give up natural leather» –the President is sure. Accordingly, there will be prospects for enterprises working in this profile.

Touching upon the issue of the possibility of an additional increase in the retirement age, Alexander Lukashenko said that no new decisions on the retirement age are planned in Belarus. «All decisions have been made. We will act in this direction» – the Belarusian leader emphasized.

Alexander Lukashenko also noted that it would be possible to make the retirement age, for example, from 50 years old. «But just do not forget that after 50 years our children will support us» – the Head of State noted.

Accordingly, the burden and contributions to the pension fund would have increased. «But not a single mother, not a single father will ever say: let my daughter or son pay for me there. They will say: yes, I would rather work 3-5 years» – the President said.

«You understand me. I am from ordinary people, a simple family. My mother was a milkmaid, and I know what this life is. And I myself milked the cows for 10 years. But we shouldn't shift our problems onto children. Who knows how else the life of our children will turn out. This is the problem, and not because we want to rip off some money from you there» – the Belarusian leader emphasized.

«We have made all the decisions (on the retirement age. – approx.). I will soon be a pensioner with you. Why am I going to work until I am 80, and when I’m 80, I’ll retire? I will climb the plane, and, God forbid, fall on these steps» – noted Alexander Lukashenko.

Employees of the tannery presented the Head of State with a large map of Belarus made of different types of leather. «Allow me to present you a map of our beloved united Belarus as a souvenir. It is made of leather produced in Gatovo. Yes, there are different types of leather. So we are all different, – said the general director of the enterprise Olga Politiko, presenting the gift.Let it decorate your residence. And to you – health, patience».



According to Alexander Lukashenko, this gift will take its rightful place in the Palace of Independence. «You've seen enough of these films … Residence … It will be in the Palace of Independence. This is your residence, this is your home. I will find a place in the Palace of Independence. This is original» – the President said.

He thanked for the gift and wished everyone a long life. The President stressed that the state spares no expense to save lives and health of people. «Remember that we have spent a billion dollars on treating people from COVID. What, I have to count this money when a person is in intensive care … So I was in intensive care 12 times, I looked at these people. I don’t feel sorry for any money just to help them» – the Belarusian leader said.

He also touched upon the issue of vaccination of the population. «One Russian vaccine costs $ 19. Count how much you need. I agreed with them that according to their technology we will produce this vaccine at home. It's a pretty good vaccine. We will start producing in just a week» – said Alexander Lukashenko.

The President stressed that there is no wild excitement in Belarus in this regard, as in a number of foreign countries. «Moreover, we have agreed with the Chinese. They sent us a batch (a whole plane) Chinese vaccines. Very good, they say. And they also send us it, it's free» – said Alexander Lukashenko. – And we agree that we will buy from them, but it is more expensive from them.

«Therefore, it is not easy for us now, but we will withstand» – the Head of State added.

The President also recalled the recently held commemorative events in Khatyn, emphasizing the difficulties and horror people faced during the Great Patriotic War «You stand in Khatyn and think: poor people! In this remote village they went about their business. And suddenly the scum came, surrounded, drove into the barn, burned. That was a disaster».

Alexander Lukashenko drew attention to the fact that not only Germans, but also collaborators took part in the punitive operations. «That was a disaster. You live in the village, you have kids. Somewhere the Germans were killed – they came, the whole village was burned, cut out. Where could these poor fellows go? That was the problem. And we must remember this» – the President said.

«We've always had good times and bad times. Independence, I told you, is expensive. But probably not one of you wants to sell, to enter the interior of any state. And I don’t want any more. Because the first President of this state, which I sculpted with these hands together with you» – summed up the Head of State.

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