MINSK, 11 August (BelTA) – Belarus' Minister of Antitrust Regulation and Trade Vladimir Koltovich told reporters how the ministry is going to deal with prices for staple goods, BelTA has learned.
The minister recalled that in July price controls were extended for another 90 days. “For the moment we have plans to extend the price controls. These measures will remain in place till the end of the year. This helps achieve a certain goal. Free-of-control prices rose by 3.7% over the past 12 months, while prices for staple goods regulated by the state went up by 2.4%. These efforts helped us lower prices for the main staple goods this year,” the minister said.
At the same time, Vladimir Koltovich noted that price controls as such make sense only when they are used for a short period of time – not longer than a year. “If price controls stay in place longer, it affects manufacturers and retailers. Therefore, after passing the one-year mark, we will be very careful about any further controls,” he said.
“Nevertheless, we are closely following the situation with staple products. In the event of adverse developments price controls will stay in place next year,” the minister assured.
Vladimir Koltovich recalled that the inflation projection for this year is 5%. “There are grounds to say that this target will be fulfilled. As of today, we are behind the projection by 0.1%. In other words, the inflation is higher than what we projected for January-July,” the minister noted.
The main reasons are the market contraction and heightened demand for some food products amid the pandemic. Yet, the measures taken to control prices for staple products have proved effective and kept the inflation in check.
“We are regulating prices for 20 commodity groups. This accounts for 50% of the food trade, a quite a large share subject to state regulation. This has proved effective,” the minister said.
The campaign, which can be called “stop prices!”, is running in Belarus until the end of Q3 this year. Some companies including natural monopolies have been asked not to increase prices. “In Q4 if the trend is persistent and if we see that there are opportunities, then we will consider raising tariffs for some positions,” the minister noted.
As it has been reported, the Ministry of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade issued Resolution No.48 on 14 July 2020 to prolong its Resolution No.30 on price controls for staple goods of 15 April 2020. The validity of the document has been extended for 180 days, instead of 90 days.
The list includes fish, butters, vegetable and rapeseed oil, wheat flour, edible salt, white rice, white farina and groats, oat flakes, macaroni, bread, beef, pork, poultry, eggs, milk, kefir, sour-cream, cottage cheese, baby food, potatoes, beets, carrots, cabbage, onions, cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, and black tea.
The decision aims to prevent price hikes and to ensure accessibility of staples for people.