Lukašenka gives ultimatum to top government officials over economic targets

Aliaksandr Lukašenka warned on Thursday that top government officials may lose their jobs if key economic targets were missed this year.

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“The [economic] forecast for this year was adopted by the current cabinet,” the Belarusian leader said, speaking at a government conference. The cabinet stressed last year that the 2019 economic targets were absolutely realistic, he said, according to the presidential press office.

“That is why my directives - both in writing and those announced publicly - are as follows: everything that was planned should be implemented,” he said.

Mr. Lukašenka noted that the practice of setting economic targets for the following year made no sense if they were not met.

“If the [economic] development targets for 2019 are not met, all those responsible - starting with the prime minister - will go into retirement,” he said. “I warned you at this time last year when you were drawing up plans for 2019. So it should come as no surprise to you.”

Mr. Lukašenka said that economic development should result in higher living standards for ordinary people. That would be impossible without economic growth, he acknowledged.

“But what alarms me is that this economic growth is not only modest [this year] but also extremely unsteady, to speak mildly. This trend needs to be changed. Those who want to and can do that, stay and change it,” he said.

The head of state asked participants to speak about what should be done to improve the country’s economy and eliminate causes of economic imbalances.

“We cannot adopt the position of outside observers and be content with a balanced [economy], one that has been invented, written on paper,” he warned. “People who have put their trust in us in various campaigns, including political ones, have voted not for that and demand not that from us.”