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More importantly, local governments impose profit margin controls on certain socially sensitive goods such as dark bread and milk. Because the cost accounting systems of Belarusian enterprises do not make adequate allowance for the impact of inflation and, in some cases, do not allow certain production and marketing expenses to be counted as costs, profits are often seriously overstated, and controls on profit margins therefore result in a severe erosion of working capital. Such controls should be eliminated at all levels as soon as possible to help assure the financial viability of enterprises, and the efficient use of their goods and services.

The Government is very concerned about mobilizing the investment resources needed to improve production efficiency, reduce the use of energy, and raise product design and quality to international standards. Heavy investments will indeed be required. Much of the existing equipment did not meet international standards Page 2 even when new, and the clearly inadequate levels of investment in fixed capital asset renewal since 1991 have left much of the current stock in a seriously depreciated condition.

Page i A WORLD BANK COUNTRY STUDY Belarus Prices, Markets, And Enterprise Reform The World Bank Washington, D. C. W. C. A. All rights reserved Manufactured in the United States of America First printing July 1997 World Bank Country Studies are among the many reports originally prepared for internal use as part of the continuing analysis by the Bank of the economic and related conditions of its developing member countries and of its dialogues with the governments. Some of the reports are published in this series with the least possible delay for the use of governments and the academic, business and financial, and development communities.

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