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Top Belarusian state-run retailer criticized for wasting resources

MINSK, 8 October (BelTA) – The economic situation and salaries in the Belarusian National Union of Consumer Societies (Belkoopsoyuz) are dissatisfactory. Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko made the relevant statement at a general meeting of representatives of the members of the Belarusian National Union of Consumer Societies on 8 October, BelTA has learned.

Aleksandr Lukashenko said: “Belkoopsoyuz has been unable to reverse the trend of worsening economic indicators. Yes, it has operated in the black for the last couple of years as a whole but the profits are close to zero: 0.6% in H1 2020 and H1 2021. There is no financial durability margin in the industry. And without it normal investments and new business ventures are impossible. How are you going to grow and implement your plans? In essence you are now engaged in simple reproduction, in other words, you waste available resources. Which is alarming.”

“Belkoopsoyuz has the largest volume of accounts payable for consumer goods. Do you know what surprises me in your debts? Here are the figures. You owe nearly Br0.5 billion to agricultural enterprises and other suppliers of products and services. Of the figure Br109 million or 24% is overdue accounts payable,” the president pointed out.

Belkoopsoyuz owes Br3 million in overdue taxes to the state budget. Belkoopsoyuz owes a total of Br337 million to banks, including only Br2.5 million (0.7%) in overdue debts. “What conclusion is prompted by this financial mess? A very simple one. Your management and you are most afraid of the bankers, who may not give you loans if you don’t pay up. This is why you channel all your profits primarily into paying the debts to banks and rather high interest rates. Meanwhile, you couldn’t care less about the state budget although the budget and taxes are sacred in all the countries! You couldn’t care less about your suppliers, who you have probably saddled with disadvantageous contracts with huge deferments of payments. But you don’t honor your liabilities yet complain that someone gets ferrous metals from you and doesn’t pay up on time. You set the example after all,” the head of state noted.

Aleksandr Lukashenko stressed that banks could also give some leeway to Belkoopsoyuz. “Bankers see that the situation in this industry is complicated. They should show understanding. It is necessary for heads of the relevant Belkoopsoyuz divisions to meet with the bankers somewhere private while the government or the State Control Committee should keep them locked up until they come to terms. But bankers should make a step towards rural residents instead of their profits. They should at least consider a 50-50 ratio. But no, they’ve secured their profits and don’t care for the state budget and the rest. This approach has to stop,” the president stressed.

Aleksandr Lukashenko instructed the new Belkoopsoyuz head to put financial matters in order within the next few months. “If bankers and the rest are not accommodating enough, call the chairman of the State Control Committee. I look forward to your report at the end of the year,” he added.

“You should stop playing with the state budget and the payment of taxes. The state budget is sacred. You have to pay up. If you don’t, don’t come begging for finance and support. Don’t drag out the situation with loss-making enterprises. You and heads of these enterprises should clarify what the problems are and work out a business plan in 3-4 months. If they can’t do it, fire them,” the head of state said.

A number of Belkoopsoyuz enterprises are in various stages of economic insolvency, they are bankrupt. Near 20% of the enterprises generated losses in H1 2021. Their number rose from 11 to 23 over the course of one year, with net losses tripling to Br15 million.

Aleksandr Lukashenko noted that the Belarusian economy is growing on the whole, the results are rather good, and only Belkoopsoyuz demonstrates the highest growth of the number of loss-making enterprises over the year – 2.5 times up. “It is essentially an emergency. Pity that the central government and the oblast administrations can’t see that. The reasons are obvious, they’ve already been mentioned today – this industry exports virtually nothing and export generates the main profits now. You don’t care about costs and crazy interest rates. This is why you get these results. There are also other areas where expenses and prime costs are crazy,” he said.

Aleksandr Lukashenko also said he wants every oblast administration, Deputy Prime Minister Aleksandr Subbotin, and the new Belkoopsoyuz head Oleg Matskevich to personally look at the business plans of these 23 loss-making enterprises. The president said he looks forward to a report about the fulfillment of this task from Chairman of the State Control Committee Vasily Gerasimov at the end of the year.


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