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Government imposes moratorium on raising consumer prices

The Council of Ministers of Belarus has issued a directive imposing an indefinite moratorium on raising consumer prices in the country.

The moratorium is aimed at preventing consumer prices from rising and ensuring a wide range of goods in the consumer market, explains the Council of Ministers press office.

The government agencies responsible for the manufacture of consumer goods have been ordered to ensure an increase in the supply of goods to the retail sector and prevent a rise in producer prices.

The directive warns that an agency’s failure to carry out the order will lead to the dismissal of the head of the agency.

The trade ministry, the regional executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee have been tasked with preventing a rise in consumer prices and ensure that a broad range of goods is available at retail outlets and online stores.

The State Customs Committee and the interior ministry have been strictly ordered to effectively prevent illegal imports of goods.

The trade ministry, the regional executive committees and the Minsk City Executive Committee have been ordered to start massive inspections to ensure compliance with the directive.

If a retail outlet is found to be offering goods at prices higher than those effective on December 18, 2014, or found to have failed to meet the requirements for the range of available goods, the outlet will face severe penalties and may be closed, the directive says.

The Belarusian government will daily monitor the situation in the consumer market, the press office notes.

The government’s decision to impose a 30-percent fee on foreign exchange purchases, which was announced on Friday and in fact meant a 23-percent fall in the Belarusian rubel’s value, led to a rush to buy consumer durables, especially imported ones.

Earlier this month, the trade ministry already imposed a moratorium on increasing the producer and retail prices of consumer goods for the Christmas and New Year’s celebration period until January 15, 2015, but this appears to have been found insufficient.

According to the National Statistical Committee, consumer prices in Belarus increased by 15.5 percent in January-November 2014.

The government initially set an inflation target of 11 percent for 2014, but the target was later revised upwards to 17.3 percent.

Belarus had the highest inflation among the post-Soviet nations in 2011, 2012 and 2013, with a 108.7-percent, a 21.8-percent and a 16.5-percent inflation rate, respectively.

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