There are all conditions for Belarus to meet social and economic development targets for five-year period, prime minister says

Alyaksandr Lukashenka received Belarusian Prime Minsiter Syarhey Sidorski who briefed him on preparations for meetings of the heads of government...

There are all conditions for Belarus' social and economic development to become faster every month so as to meet the targets for the current five-year period, which comes to an end this year, Prime Minister Syarhey Sidorski told Alyaksandr Lukashenka during their meeting on Monday, BelaPAN reports.

In general, the development indicators were in line with projections in the first four months of 2010, the presidential press office quoted Mr. Sidorski as saying.

The nation's Gross Domestic Product increased by 6.1 percent in the period and so did industrial output, Mr. Sidorski said.

Agricultural output increased by 5.4 percent, he said, adding that the Vitsyebsk region was the one whether the sowing campaign was not yet over because of unfavorable weather conditions.

Belarus' effort to find new export markets was rather successful, Mr. Sidorski said.

On May 15, a Belarusian government delegation participated in the opening ceremony for a plant that will manufacture late-model Belarus tractors in Russia’s Republic of Tatarstan, he noted.

Belarus' exports increased by 29.2 percent year-on-year in the first three months of 2010, Mr. Sidorski said, adding that fixed capital expenditures in the period rose by 0.2 percent.

In the first four months of 2010, housing totaling 1.5 million square meters was built in Belarus, with more than 900,000 square meters being intended for those on waiting lists for better housing conditions, Mr. Sidorski said.

The head of state once again emphasized the need for the central and local governments to make as much housing as possible available to people on the waiting lists, the press office said.

According to Mr. Sidorski, consumer prices increased by an average of 0.8 percent every month between January and April.

Prime Minsiter briefed the Belarusian leader on preparations for meetings of the heads of government of CIS countries to take place in Russia’s St Petersburg later this month.

On May 21, the Russian city will host a session of the CIS Council of the Heads of Government and two meetings of the Eurasian Economic Community’s Interstate Council, with one of them to take place between the prime ministers of the Customs Union member countries.

Mr. Sidorski said that he would raise the issue of Russia’s duty on exports of oil and petrochemical products to Belarus and demand the abolition of the duty within the two countries’ Customs Union with Kazakhstan.

As for the import duty rates on automobiles that Belarus is expected to raise to Russia`s level for individuals within the Customs Union later this year, Mr. Lukashenka said that Belarus’ interests should be taken into account, according to the report. The rates should be left at their current level or a well-balanced decision suiting the three states should be found, the press office said, quoting Mr. Sidorski as saying that Kazakhstan supports Belarus’ position on the matter.

Messrs. Lukashenka and Sidorski also discussed the operation of free economic zones, a matter on which the three countries also need to reach an agreement, the press office said.

Unlike Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia have free economic zones of companies engaged in the "raw materials industry," it noted.

In late April, the CIS Economic Court accepted for examination a suit filed by Minsk against the customs duty applied by Russia to exports of petrochemical products and “petrochemical raw materials” to Belarus.

The Belarusian justice ministry lodged the suit on March 25, saying that international agreements concluded within the CIS and the Eurasian Economic Community, as well as bilateral agreements between Belarus and Russia “provide for duty-free trade,” while Russia has been levying an export duty on deliveries of “petrochemical raw materials” and petrochemical products to Belarus since January 1, 2010.

Russian officials welcomed the ministry’s move as a civilized way of settling bilateral disputes.