MINSK, 7 October (BelTA) – Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko signed Directive No. 10 “On banning price rises” following a government meeting held on 6 October.
At the meeting the president raised the most pressing issues related to inflation and rising prices. Aleksandr Lukashenko harshly criticized the officials in charge for the lack of effort to ensure fair pricing in all market segments. As a result, the head of state had to intervene in the situation.
Following the meeting, the president announced his decision: “From 6 October any increase in prices is prohibited. Forbidden! From today. Not from tomorrow, but from today. So that they do not inflate prices over the day. Therefore, from today, price increases are prohibited. God forbid someone decides to raise prices or do some indexation retroactively.”
Why was such a ban needed?
The president explained why he opted for such a strong-willed decision: "Because prices surged excessively at one point, about which the prime minister reported to us. But they still continued to grow. They rose by the same amount. Prices are exorbitant today. They hit the ceiling. Prices cannot be raised anywhere. There is no need for that. Yet there may be exceptions. These exceptions are under the control of the minister and the governors. That's it.”
Aleksandr Lukashenko emphasized that he is not afraid of criticism for these decisions, because the most important thing is to pursue a fair policy. “I publicly set this task for you, taking the burden of this problem on myself, knowing that tomorrow everyone will go crazy criticizing the president. But we must pursue a fair policy,” he said. “I earnestly ask you to pass a resolution by 20 October that would ensure control over prices and prevent price increases. We have a lot of hard work ahead.”
The directive acknowledges the problem of consumer price rises in Belarus. Inflation significantly exceeded the forecast and caused a decrease in household incomes in real terms. This renders ineffective the government's efforts to increase wages and pension benefits. The authorities did not take timely and consistent measures to prevent unreasonable price rises and control compliance with pricing regulations. Therefore, an immediate and tough response is required at all levels.
What decisions does the document contain?
In order to protect the interests of citizens and organizations of the Republic of Belarus, to prevent further price growth, establish an effective system of price control and saturate the domestic consumer market with goods (works, services), the directive imposes a ban as from 6 October 2022 on price increases, except in cases determined by the chairmen of the regional executive committees, the Minsk City Executive Committee together with the Minister of Antimonopoly Regulation and Trade and sectoral ministers.
Heads of bodies of state administration, other organizations subordinate to the government, chairmen of regional executive committees, Minsk City Executive Committee shall take exhaustive measures to restrain price growth and reduce the cost of products; saturate the domestic; prevent unjustified closure of retail facilities.
Terms of reference of the working group
The directive has formalized another decision of the head of state to set up a working group headed by Chairwoman of the Council of the Republic of the National Assembly Natalya Kochanova. It includes Chairman of the House of Representatives Vladimir Andreichenko, Chairman of the State Control Committee Vasily Gerasimov, Chairman of the National Statistical Committee Inna Medvedeva, and Chairman of the Federation of Trade Unions of Belarus Mikhail Orda.
The working group has been tasked with drawing up a list of proposals on measures to improve price regulation and submit it to the Council of Ministers within ten days.
The group shall also involve MPs of all levels, representatives of the State Control Committee, other state bodies and organizations, and trade unions in its work.
The group shall monitor, on an ongoing basis, prices and the state of the consumer market, inform regulatory and law enforcement agencies about the violations in order to take response measures.
What instructions have been given to the government?
Before 20 October 2022, the government shall approve and implement a price regulation system on the basis of the proposals submitted by the working group. The government is also instructed to ensure effective monitoring over price discipline.
What responsibility will there be for the violation of the directive?
Persons responsible for non-fulfillment (improper fulfillment) of the requirements of the directive will be held liable, up to the criminal responsibility. Such a measure is spelled out in the document.
The Prosecutor General's Office in cooperation with the State Control Committee is instructed to immediately assess the actions of officials and other employees on the implementation of the requirements of the directive, to apply measures of procedural coercion, including detention.
The State Control Committee is vested with monitoring the implementation of the directive.