Lukashenko meets with customs service chief, discusses sanctions, budget replenishment


Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko received a report from Chairman of the State Customs Committee Vladimir Orlovsky. The operation of the customs service was reviewed, including the replenishment of the state budget and the counteraction of Western sanctions, BelTA has learned. 

Aleksandr Lukashenko outlined key items on the agenda at the beginning of the meeting: “What is the situation at the border from your point of view? Naturally from an economic angle first and foremost. How are you performing your key functions to replenish the state budget in the sphere you are responsible for?” 

The president reminded that functions had been redistributed between the State Customs Committee and the State Border Committee some time before. Aleksandr Lukashenko wondered about the current state of affairs: “What is going on because of it? Are there any concerns? Did we make an error somewhere?” 

He went on saying: “I'd like you to evaluate our actions and [report] what you are doing to counteract Western sanctions. The West has introduced sanctions against us. We've responded. You are entrusted with the most important function at the forefront, in economy – oversight over the fulfillment of countersanction measures, I mean our response measures. What do they look like today? What is happening because of it?” 

The head of state also wondered about the improvement of infrastructure at customs clearance stations and the improvement of customs technologies. “Back in the day the European Union financed some joint programs relating to customs at our border. In the past they stopped helping us, supporting us in this regard, and refused to execute programs. It is a total disgrace: they made promises, reached agreements only to give it all up later on. Well, it seems they have the right to do it,” the president said. “Have we been able to substitute their absence with our measures? Have we lost these programs? Do we continue improving the infrastructure of the customs service?” 

In addition to the current state of affairs Aleksandr Lukashenko had a reason to mention accomplishments of customs service personnel, who celebrated their professional holiday on 20 September. He offered warm congratulations to those, who deserve it: “The guys deserve it. Convey my best wishes to them. I hope to god it will always be decent unlike in the first years of my presidency.” 

Vladimir Orlovsky thanked Aleksandr Lukashenko for the congratulations. Speaking about the situation at the border, he said: “Certainly our work has changed a lot due to unprecedented sanctions of the European Union. The fact that they have forbidden Belarusian and Russian trucks to enter the European Union has made a serious impression on our work. But we adapted within one week. We had had logistic hubs along the border before that. We added more, arranged a number of other sites, made the personnel to work 24/7 and started reattaching and reloading truck trailers virtually within one week.” 

“So, when a semi-trailer truck arrives, either the trailer is reattached to another truck or the freight is moved to another truck, which then proceeds to the European Union while we and Russians work here,” Aleksandr Lukashenko asked for a clarification. 

“Absolutely correct. We involve our shipping companies. And vice versa,” Vladimir Orlovsky confirmed. 

According to the State Customs Committee, in 2022 the central state budget received Br5.8 billion in customs payments. Over 951,000 trucks crossed the customs border of the Eurasian Economic Union into Belarus, with 12 million tonnes of freight transported. The number of cars crossing the border more than tripled – from 321,000 to 1.2 million. There are plans to finish the reconstruction of seven automobile border crossings this year: Brest, Mokrany, Benyakoni, Kotlovka, Vidzy, Grigorovshchina, and Novaya Rudnya. 

Since early 2022 law enforcement efforts of the State Customs Committee have generated over Br38 million in state budget revenues, 38% up from the same period of last year. As many as 266 facts of illegal transportation of narcotic substances and psychotropic substances were stopped, 127 criminal cases were opened, about 500kg of narcotic substances, psychotropic substances, and potent substances were seized. As many as 60 facts of illegal actions involving weapons, ammunition, and explosives were revealed, six criminal cases were opened, 267 units of weapons and ammunition were seized. 

As for the measures the customs service is taking to counteract the pressure of Western sanctions, the State Customs Committee reminded about the prohibition for European Union trucks to drive in Belarus. The measure was implemented in response to the European Union's sanctions against Belarusian and Russian shipping companies. In order to transport cargoes to and from unfriendly countries, truck trailers can be reattached to another vehicle or freight can be reloaded to another vehicle at 18 designated locations where nearly 2,200 trucks can stay at the same time. About 1,000 trailers are reattached and 400 vehicles are reloaded every day.

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