Vendors allowed to raise prices for pre-devaluation stock
However, if they recalculated the stock in rubels and set the price before the New Year, the costs could not be raised, Lilia Koval, a deputy chairperson of the Union of Entrepreneurs, told the European Radio for Belarus. She says that if an entrepreneur bought mandarines before the devaluation, for example on December 31, and did not set an extra charge and a sale price, he or she could sell mandarines at 20 percent more expensive beginning from January 2.
But if an entrepreneur bought a stock for hard curency, converted it into the Belarusian rubels and set a sale price before the New Year, he or she is not allowed to change the price now.
However, the law does not seem to scare vendors, as prices at market places have surged immediately. Inspections carried out by the Economy Ministry detected that the costs for some commodities and foodstuffs, mainly citrus plants and fish, were inflated by 70 percent! This was confirmed by Viachaslau Pikus, a deputy head of the pricing policy department at the economy committee of the Minsk Regional Administration. He said:
“In some cases, prices were inflated by more than 60 percent, mainly fruits, citrus plants and fish. We also detected violations as regards the prices of bakery products and non-food commodities”.
In Belarus, the government regulates the prices for the so called socially significant foodstuffs like bread, flour, milk, sugar, popato... У Беларусі існуе спіс сацыяльна значных тавараў, на якія дзяржава ўсталёўвае мяжу цаны. Сярод гэтых прадуктаў, да прыкладу, хлеб, мука, малако, цукар, бульба… Other foodstuffs are not subjected to price limitations.
Then, how can the state talk about the inflated prices of mandarines, lemons and oil and penalize vendors? Yes, it can, says Viachaslau Pikus, because of the extra charge limitations.
Viachaslau Pikus: “Generally, an extra charge to the wholesale manufacturer's price is around 30 percent. But this extra charge for some foodstuffs is less then 30 percent, so vendors inflate this extra charge to bring it up to 30 percent. Sometime, they even go beyond 30 percent”.
Lilia Koval puts blame on devaluation which has inflated the purchasing prices, rental fees and other expenditures. Correspondingly, entrepreneurs try to cover all these expenditures by increasing sale prices.
Lilia Koval reckons that whether higher prices are legitimate or not should be considered with caution in every particular case. Apparently, the staff of the economy ministry and regional authorities seem to have already considered every case and compiled the statements of administrative offences.