Privatization of Belarusian enterprises happens only on paper

The authorities have announced another attempt to privatize the money-losing state-owned enterprises with the help of the World Bank.

“Kryon” is one of the four companies put up for open tender. The Belarusian authorities are hoping that foreign investors will come and save not the most profitable enterprise.

Along with “Kryon” the National Investment and Privatization Agency is looking for investors to open joint-stock companies called “Stuzhka”, “March 8” and “Lakokraska”. All of them have a huge debt.

According to experts, the authorities, while inviting foreign investors and declaring their openness to privatization of certain state-owned assets, often exhibit clearly impracticable conditions: maintaining a controlling stake, the ban on staff reductions, as well as regulated investments. In fact, the investors are supposed to give money, but let the state manage the enterprises further.

The assets offered for sale are also quite controversial. Thus, “Lakokraska” occupies 27 percent of the domestic market of paints and varnishes, but at the same time last year recorded a net loss of almost 19 million BYN. Compared to 2016, the losses rose more than eight times. And its long-term liabilities on loans last year reached 84 million BYN. The revenues of the “March 8” knitwear factory for the year decreased 23 times.

But even if the investments do come, they do not always bring success to the company and the investor. For example, the head of the Austrian company ATEC Holding GmbH Alyaksandr Murauiou, who decided to Improve the Minsk Motorcycle Plant, not only lost the company, but also went to prison for 11 years.

According to experts, a weak institution of private property in Belarus, in principle, gives no hope to attract any major foreign companies. Therefore, the applications and the invitations from the official rooms are convincing, perhaps, only for their authors.

Zmitser Mitskevich,

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