Belarusian President's Election Manifesto

In his election manifesto, President Alyaksandr Lukashenka has promised to bring the living standards in Belarus up to European levels, to increase GDP and industrial output, build more houses, create more jobs and reduce red tape and bureaucracy. The manifesto, published in a number of republican newspapers, also pledges improvements in health services and family benefits. In foreign policy, the president said Belarus would continue developing ties with all countries, including the EU and the USA. He said that relations with Russia are strategic for Belarus. The following is the text of the manifesto entitled "A state for the people: The election programme of candidate for President of the Republic of Belarus Alyaksandr Lukashenka", published in the Sovetskaya Belorussiya newspaper on 2 March; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

Dear fellow countrymen!

The presidential election is of particular importance. It is a crucial choice of the path of the country's development on which the prosperity of every family and every individual depends. The Republic of Belarus is a young state, but we have invaluable experience of consolidating society both in overcoming a crisis and of the successful fulfilment of intensive programmes of socio- economic development. All these years we have been working together to establish the independence and sovereignty of Belarus.

We do not have considerable natural resources. The people are the main source of our wealth. And I see my main task in ensuring a high quality of life in the country.

How did we begin? Just recall the situation at the beginning of the 1990s - a production standstill, a total shortage of goods in the shops, disorder and confusion in society. The average wage in 1994 was about 20 dollars and a pension 7 dollars and inflation was over 2,300 per cent annually! The country had simply imploded.


Today Belarus is a country in which people want to live, work and bring up their children. In the past ten years we have managed to double Gross Domestic Product, to completely solve the food problem, to increase investments and the output of food production 2.5 times and the volume of foreign trade almost three times. The brand "Made in Belarus" has become familiar in all corners of the globe.

But economic indices alone are not important. The main thing is that the economy is working for each person in the republic. Everything in our power is being done to ensure that our citizens feel socially protected. We have fulfilled our promise to increase wages and pensions. We are paying out ten types of benefit. The proportion of expenditure for the social needs of the population is over 60 per cent of the state budget. We have outstripped all the countries of the CIS and the Baltic region in the number of apartments we have built per thousand of the population. The most outlying regions of the republic have been supplied with natural gas. There was less housing built in Belarus in all the years of Soviet power!

The improvement in material prosperity has been reflected in literally everything - our way of life has changed, our culture has grown, and the arts, sport and science have developed. Just look how much Belarussian towns and villages have been transformed. Stability and accord have been preserved in Belarussian society. Of course, not all problems have yet been resolved, but we have achieved the main thing which was to create an independent, dynamically developing Belarussian society and the basis which enables us to carry out the transition of the country to a new quality of life.

Living standards to improve

The main task for the next five years is to take the quality of life of our citizens to a level comparable with that in western Europe. At the same time, we see quality of life not just in terms of wage levels, but in accessible housing, education, medical aid, guaranteed jobs, ecology and many other things. A new quality of life means power for the people.

We want to achieve a situation whereby people do not feel beggars towards the state services. In order to achieve this we shall continue to cut down on bureaucracy and to simplify and reduce the cost of all administrative procedures of organizations to which our citizens apply (obtaining land plots, certificates, permits and so on). The "one window" principle will be introduced in all these cases. A priority task will be to finally eradicate red tape and a casual attitude to formalism when examining people's urgent problems. As before, we shall not retract from a policy of a resolute fight against corruption which can corrode any state.

We shall elevate medical services to a qualitatively new level by supplying hospitals and out-patients' clinics with the latest equipment, introducing advanced technologies and building specialized medical centres. But at the same time we shall maintain free and accessible medical aid.

Rural areas, housing, jobs

We shall make life in the rural areas no less comfortable than in the towns.

It is precisely for this purpose that an integrated programme of the regeneration and development of the countryside has been directed and which we have already started to implement.

We need to create socio-economic conditions in which each family has no less than two-three children. To achieve this child benefits will be substantially increased. Guarantees will be provided for mothers to retain their jobs and for all children to have places in pre-school establishments.

The child catering and clothing industry will be re-equipped at the most modern level.

But the main problem is housing. It must be accessible. We must achieve a target of no less than 25 square metres per person by 2010. We shall put an end to the arbitrariness in price-fixing for houses within the next two years. Values must be halved and credit conditions simplified. Our guideline is that each young family should have an apartment no later than three years after marriage. And the state will pay larger families: with five children 100 per cent; four children 50 per cent, and three children 30 per cent.

Raising the well-being of people requires a new quality of development of the economy - the use of highly efficient energy and resource-saving technologies, the accelerated development of science- based industries and high-tech, import-substitution and export- orientated production capacities.

By 2010 we plan to increase the volume of investment in basic capital 1.7 times and the funding of scientific research and development by 3 times.

Industrial development

We have developed hundreds of major industries up to world levels. Now the priority task is to reach out to every enterprise in our country, whatever the industry, sphere and strength of employees, to carry out their modernization, to make output competitive and to improve the living standards of the workers. This is the best way of ensuring the socio-economic development, first and foremost, of small towns and villages.

As a result of the implementation of these plans we should over a five-year period achieve a growth of Gross Domestic Product of 1.5 times, industrial production by 50 per cent, agriculture by 40 per cent, a volume of implementing services to the population by 60 per cent, and wages, pensions, grants and benefits no less than double, and to reduce inflation to a level of no more than five per cent annually.

We need to improve the forms and mechanisms of running the economy. We shall switch the emphasis from administrative methods of control to economic measures of regulation and state assistance to all forms of ownership.

Stable and long-term rules of entrepreneurial activity will be devised, creating guarantees of a consistent improvement in the conditions of its implementation. We shall introduce the notification principle when registering individual entrepreneurs and other businesses. The state will encourage the development of private ownership, particularly in the production industries and services sphere.

Our tax system must be more simple, convenient and transparent. We need to improve legislation, reduce the tax burden and cut down on the number of taxes. They must not "kill" the initiative of those who can and want to earn.

We are in favour of partnership relations between the state and business.

Encouraging the young

Today Belarus needs initiative, energy and purpose as never before, i.e. those qualities which today's young people possess. It is precisely they, multiplied by the potential of the latest technology, who will ensure the dynamic development of our country. Young people must be given top-quality education and well-paid jobs. The state will create all the conditions to ensure that each young person has the opportunity to untilize his capabilities in his own country, where his talents will be used with maximum benefit for himself and for all society.

We shall continue to conduct a peace-loving and varied foreign policy and to strengthen neighbourly relations with everyone. Belarus has never posed a threat to anyone. But we shall uphold our independence and our national interests by all civilized means.

The further construction of a union state is a strategic task, and fraternal Russia is one of our most important partners. Belarus is open to mutually advantageous economic cooperation with all states of the world. We are prepared for an equal political dialogue with all countries, including the USA and the European Union. We reaffirm once again this principled and honest position.

Dear friends! Today the country is on the upsurge, and the priority task is to continue this confident rise and not to slip into an abyss of economic and socio-political upheaval. We must make our state convenient and comfortable for our people to live in, a state for the people. The future is ours, and we must create it. I offer you my services, and now it is up to you.