MINSK, 6 October (BelTA) – We propose to introduce price controls along the entire chain, Chairwoman of the Belarusian National Statistical Committee Inna Medvedeva said at a government meeting hosted by Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko to discuss economic matters in Minsk on 6 October, BelTA has learned.
Inna Medvedeva noted that the inflation in August hit 13.8%. It is expected to rise by another 1.6% in September.
"Prices for food contributed a third to the inflation since the beginning of the year. Prices for domestic food products rose the most," she said.
The rise in food prices in retail chains, she said, was due to higher prices along the entire chain, starting from agricultural producers and ending with retail.
"The main reason for the increase in prices, according to manufacturers, was the rise in prices for raw materials and fuels. A significant dependence of some manufactures on imports, for example, confectionery, leads to a significant impact of the currency exchange rates on the cost of products and a direct dependence on the prices for raw materials set by suppliers. In addition, prices in the domestic market are influenced by the cost of food on the world market and neighboring markets," Inna Medvedeva stated.
Commodity producers have found a loophole that allows them to raise prices and circumvent the anti-inflationary legislation. They supply traditional products to stores under the guise of new ones, setting higher prices for them.
“We believe it is advisable to establish state regulation of prices for business entities, from producers to retail chains, to prohibit the registration of new products with little change in their consumer properties, to develop a clear system for price setting for seasonal products, especially for greenhouses, in order to prevent the growth of prices in annual terms and to smooth out seasonal fluctuations, to develop a mechanism for recalculation of the cost of imported products for all importers,” the head of the Belarusian Statistics Committee said.
Prime Minister Roman Golovchenko, for his part, believes that strict price regulation is not the way forward. “In 2020-2021, price regulation in the country was much softer than now. At the same time, inflation and prices were kept within the predicted parameters. One can regulate everything to the limit and get the opposite effect,” he said.
“In Belarus, price regulation is the strictest in the CIS and one of the strictest in the world,” the prime minister added.
“Roman Aleksandrovich, let me remind you something. You are the Prime Minister of Belarus, not Estonia. Fortunately. And not of Latvia or Lithuania. Why should we look at them [the annual inflation rate in Estonia is over 25%, and over 20% in Latvia and Lithuania]?” Aleksandr Lukashenko responded to the words of the head of government.
“I am not comparing us with them. I just want to say that the system of price regulation has already been established in the country. It has been tightened this year compared to previous years,” Roman Golovchenko explained.