Lukashenka: Belarus stands good chance of becoming regional IT leader

Belarus stands a good chance of becoming a regional leader in the sphere of information technologies, Alyaksandr Lukashenka said Monday in Minsk, speaking while meeting with top government officials and businesspeople to discuss a draft presidential decree that may, among other things, recognize digital currencies as legal tender.

Lukashenka: Belarus stands good chance of becoming regional IT leader

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"We should accept the new digital reality as it is called and make maximum use of opportunities that it is opening up for Belarus," said Mr. Lukashenka, adding that Belarus viewed its economy's digital transformation as a key development priority.

The head of state warned that Belarus needed to keep up with the times and advance high technologies, according to the government's news agency BelTA.

"A new impetus should be given to the domestic IT sector, so that capable people could fully achieve their potential here," he said. "Belarus should become the real center of attraction for talented people, successful companies and international corporations. Our country stands a good chance of becoming at least a regional leader in developing the most advanced areas such as artificial intelligence, big data and the blockchain technology."

Mr. Lukashenka warned that IT businesses should "not forget about the state's interests" and support it. "All smart people now understand what stability and order are," he said. "And everyone tries to dock one's boat on this shore. We are ready to build such a dock or even more than that - a haven. You should become good masters in this haven."

Warning against tax evasion, Mr. Lukashenka promised that IT companies' taxes would never be stolen by corrupt government officials in Belarus. "But if you create a beautiful haven here where everyone comes and works and makes money only for oneself, without thinking about others and even those who will be working at your companies… Honestly speaking, I don't need such a haven," he said. "Let's be responsible for this piece of land together. I will guarantee you stability and non-interference. But no one has abolished order."

He urged those in attendance to "try to understand how our goal of creating an IT country can be achieved." "That will be our joint achievement that we will be able to be proud of," he said.

Speaking at the meeting, Usevalad Yanchewski, head of the administration of the High-Technology Park, said that countries now competed for capital, technologies and brainpower with the quality of their laws.

Mr. Yanchewski said that the draft decree included provisions that were revolutionary not only for Belarus but also for the world's most developed states.

The Council of Ministers said last week that the draft decree, which creates as much favorable conditions for the development of the blockchain technology as possible, had already been approved by all government agencies concerned.

The presidential decree is expected to recognize cryptocurrencies as legal tender, despite apparent objections from the finance ministry and the National Bank of Belarus.