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10 February 2023, 14:29

Lukashenko warns against unfair price hikes

MINSK, 10 February (BelTA) - There should be no unfair rampant price increases, Belarusian President Aleksandr Lukashenko said at the government meeting on pricing on 10 February, BelTA has learned.

The president cited a number of facts and statistics, describing the situation in the consumer market and price changes for different categories of goods.

“The monthly increase in the prices for domestic consumer goods has only slowed down, but has not stopped. I do not insist that prices be stopped. Because with such international inflation, stopping prices would result in shortages on the store shelves. There should not be unreasonable frantic growth of prices either,” the Belarusian leader stressed.

He stated that the regulation of prices restrained the inflationary processes and the new measures, taken in October 2022, contributed to the reduction in consumer prices. As a result, deflation made up almost 2% in the fourth quarter of 2022.

“In December 2022 consumer prices for goods under regulation decreased by almost 3% compared to September (before the measures were introduced),” the Belarusian leader said. Prices reduced both for domestic and imported goods.

There is an opinion that the measures taken by the government to regulate pricing were not a systemic decision to prevent unjustified price increases in the consumer market, reduce the cost of products and saturate the domestic market to full demand. The head of state responded to this point of view: “System solutions could not have solved everything within four months. I have already said: it is a living organism, and not everything depends on us. It has been said that if mistakes have been made, we need to fine-tune the system.”

Speaking about the change in prices for domestic goods, the president drew attention to the rise in prices for some staple products, especially fruits and vegetables. Prices went up even for the products grown in Belarus: onions, carrots, and potatoes. In this regard, Aleksandr Lukashenko asked how this price increase can be justified, and what the cost price and profitability of such products were.

"The monthly growth rate of prices of domestic producers of consumer goods has slowed down but not stopped. I'm not insisting that prices be stopped. With such inflation in the world, stopping prices will turn into a deficit on the shelves. But there should be no unreasonable frenzied growth," the president emphasized.

According to the State Control Committee, government bodies did not think through some decisions on selling prices for new goods. But the MART has never issued an order to cancel such decisions, the president remarked.

Separately, the head of state asked about the situation with the range of goods in retail facilities. It was reported that the situation with the assortment has stabilized in general.

Aleksandr Lukashenko highlighted the problem of unequal conditions for domestic producers and importers. This, he said, creates advantages for foreign products. For example, the situation is more favorable for imported cereals in retail. The seller who is engaged in import can apply the importer's surcharge of 20% and trade mark-up of to 30%. "Aren't you seeing it?" the president asked.

Trade mark-ups for goods of the low price segment do not allow covering transport costs from a distribution center to a retail outlet. This may result in a lack of products on sale. "We need to pay attention to this. This is a major aspect, not a trifle," the Belarusian leader said.

The president called the mechanism for determining prices in bespoke manufacture, for example, furniture, as underdeveloped. "Small businesses need to prepare a package of documents and get approval for the price for each new type of product. The is brutal. I warned you that this should not happen. The rules have been established, and let them determine the price themselves," the head of state demanded.

The president also stressed that many business entities still have questions regarding the interpretation and application of Government Resolution No. 713 "On the Price Regulation System". Therefore, he instructed to continue explanatory work, to hold additional meetings with people, representatives of retail, if necessary.

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