Lukashenko demands order in the country's tobacco market

MINSK, October 13 (Itar-Tass) - President Alexander Lukashenko has ordered the Belarusian government to normalize the situation in the country's tobacco market by January next year.

"All the shortcomings in the functioning of the tobacco market have to be removed. The aim is to produce high-quality and competitive products," Lukashenko said after a meeting on the problems of the Belarusian tobacco market on Thursday.

Lukashenko also said it was inadmissible to lobby interests in this sphere. Tobacco products are a highly profitable business, which should be a source of budget revenues.

Lukashenko warned he would exercise strict control over how his orders would be implemented. He said privileges and preferences would be rare because funds should be committed only to efficient projects.

The Neman tobacco factory in Grodno and the Tabak invest enterprise operate in Belarus' internal tobacco market. The Belarusian government has set this year's import quota for cigarettes at 1.5 billion pieces.