Nobody takes Lukashenka's threats seriously.
Last week several significant events took place that very vividly, clearly illustrate the level of economic management in the country, the whole viciousness of the economic policy methods.
The first fact. On August 15, Belarus officially broke the contract with Chinese general contractors who built the Svetlahorsk Pulp and Paper Mill.
Once, when conflicts with Russia began, the Belarusian leadership relied on the relations with China, seeking to attract abundant Chinese investment. However, from the very beginning, something went wrong with them. The volume of investments from China in 2018 amounted to $ 109 million. This is not much at all, given the scale of the Chinese economy, and unprecedented benefits for the residents of the Belarusian-Chinese Great Stone industrial park.
As for the Chinese loans, there is plenty of them. Moreover, they are all interconnected. The Chinese are setting the conditions for Belarusians to purchase Chinese equipment through these loans, and implement projects with the participation of Chinese workers.
While it was a matter of cooperation in the military-industrial complex or the implementation of infrastructure projects (roads, for example) that eere not aimed at the economic effect, everything was going more or less normal. But as soon as the Chinese began to build industrial enterprises that were supposed to generate income, problems began immediately. For example, cement plants are still operating at a loss.
Scandals followed shortly afterwards. They haven't made everything clear yet with the unpleasant story related to the Dobrush paper mill. It was built by Xuan Yuan company, the launch was scheduled for 2015. In May 2018, then-Prime Minister Andrei Kabyakou announced that the contract with Xuan Yuan was terminated.
We are now witnessing the scandal with the battery plant near Brest, where the Chinese "Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Corporation" acts as a contractor for the construction of the enterprise. The launch of the enterprise was suspended due because it turned out to be environmentally harmful.
However, the scandal surrounding the Svetlahorsk Pulp and Paper Mill is classical. It all started so well. The contract for the construction of a plant for the production of bleached sulphate pulp was signed in October 2010 with the Chinese company CAMCE. The total project cost amounted to more than $ 850 million. Eximbank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China gave the Belarusian side a loan in the amount of 85% of the contract value. They planned to launch a new plant at the end of 2015.
However, when the story seemed to be moving toward a happy ending, it turned out that the electric cable that the Chinese laid did not meet safety standards, during operation this could result in a fire, the release of chemicals, and an environmental disaster. Negotiations lasted for two years, finally the Chinese agreed to change the cable.
A. Lukashenka set the "do or die" task to launch the plant by November 7, 2017, on the anniversary of the October Revolution. The start-up took place, but an unpleasant odor began to spread into the air. In early 2018, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection suspended the plant. In the spring of 2019, a roof collapsed in one of the workshops of the plant, employees of the enterprise were injured.
However, it was not possible to agree with the Chinese company to bring the plant to a normal state, so it was decided to terminate the contract. Moreover, information appeared in the media that the Chinese have installed a special device at the plant that can be used to remotely damage the equipment. The debt of the Svetlahorsk Pulp and Paper Mill to the Chinese banks amounted to $ 800 million, and the government was forced to pay it. The state suffered the damage on an especially large scale. But no one answered for the failure.
Thus, mutually beneficial cooperation with China does not seem to be working. The Eastern partners take a purely colonial approach to the natives. The Chinese expansion into Belarus creates more and more problems for the country.
The second fact. During the current trip of A. Lukashenka to the regions, we learned a lot of interesting things about the state of agriculture. Not that we did not know about it before. But the scale is impressive.
First, during a visit to Kastsiukovichy, Lukashenka spoke about the extent of thievery in the agricultural sector:
“Discipline is very low. I do not want to say that everyone is bad. But thievery is flourishing. As president, I am even ashamed to talk about it. People steal everything, starting from diesel oil and petrol. For example, some people have recently tried to steal grain. And they don't feel ashamed at all, they don't even hide it. They take it as if it is their own. We will root such things out,” the ruler assured.
90 years of the collective farm system, including a quarter century of Lukashenka’s rule, have not unrooted this phenomenon On the contrary, it became stronger, grew deep roots. After all, there was a very favorable social soil, which has a name - the state form of ownership, the absence of a master on the land.
But the further Lukashenka moved into the rural outback, the more the situation of absurdity that reigned in this area was revealed. Visiting the Staryja Darohi district of the Minsk region, he was shocked when he found out that cattle were dying en masse at the local farms.
In July, bloggers, independent media, social networks published information and even photos of dead calves and injured cows. Lukashenka was forced to react and threatened the government with responsibility for the death of the cattle, instructed the Prosecutor General to deal with this issue.
And so, while visiting the Staryja Darohi district, Lukashenka’s assistant Aliaksandr Kasinets reported that last year 19.6 thousand heads of cattle, and 102.8 thousand pigs died in the Minsk region alone. For the first half of 2019, the death rate of cattle in the region amounted to 10.4 thousand heads, pigs - 59.6 thousand. “That is, a 17% increase in the death rate of cattle, a 24% increase in pigs,” he said.
Anatol Isachenka, the Chairman of the Minsk regional executive committee, made excuses by saying that, earlier, the leaders hid this case, cheated with numbers, but now they just stopped hiding statistics and therefore the numbers seem large. Multiply these numbers by six (the number of regions in the country), and you will see a terrifying picture. This is all you need to know about agriculture in Belarus.
It should be noted that animals always died at collective farms. Mainly - due to lack of feed, negligence, poor veterinary service.
It is the 21st century, and livestock are dying, as in the 1930s, when there was hunger and starvation. Because if there is no master, then all scientific achievements almost do not affect the state of affairs in the industry.
This is a verdict for the collective-state farm system, for the agrarian policy of Lukashenka. Although he, as usual, is trying to act all high and mighty, threatens to punish everyone:
“The guilty will be punished. What for do we plough the soil, produce fodder – for dead cows, bulls and calves? No one needs that. This is blatant mismanagement, a true crime. There will be tough punishment for the massive loss of cattle,” he said.
No one takes these threats seriously. How many times in 25 years have we heard them? Nothing changes.
Valer Karbalevich, Svobodnye Novosti