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Belarus President warns Minsk mayor against price hikes ahead of Christmas

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko supported the idea to establish a municipal trade network in Minsk during the meeting with Minsk mayor Andrei Shorets.

Mr President also asked the recently appointed mayor to make sure that prices don’t go up in stores in the run-up to New Year, one of the main public holidays in Belarus [December 31 - January 1].

Alexander Lukashenko plans to visit the Minsk City Executive Committee, the main executive body of the Belarus capital, to get familiar with the prospects of development of Minsk. There are some issues that need to be solved in the area of construction and investment.

The President instructed Andrei Shorets (by the way the youngest Minsk Mayor ever) to eliminate red tape in dealing with investors.

Alexander Lukashenko, Belarus President:
Minsk determines the mood in the country. You know that. And appointing you to this position, I warned about this. This is not the ordinary city. It is a city of cities. Therefore, I would like you to very seriously work on the development of our capital. 
I like that you do not rush to make decisions out of the blue.  We have to think on problems carefully. Minsk is a smart city. People are not stupid. So a couple of wrong decisions today can ruin Minsk's reputation. 

Particular attention was drawn to Minsk's preparation for New Year holidays. Alexander Lukashenko and Andrei Shorets discussed the situation in the consumer market.

The President also warned the mayor of the capital over rising food prices.

Alexander Lukashenko:
We are about to celebrate our major holidays and the most favorite holidays - Christmas and New Year. You know that everyone wants to adequately celebrate them.  Though Minsk is richer than other regions of the country, there are still different people here ranging from rich to poor. We must not forget that the New Year is primarily a tasty meal. People deserved it, having lived through this difficult year. I want to warn you that prices in shops should be adequate. The main thing is that they are not hiked.
You know that there are scroungers not only in Russia but also here in Belarus. Such people always use their chance to benefit from a price rise.  I have already given similar instructions to the Minister of Trade and the Ministry of Commerce. But do not forget that you are responsible for Minsk. Therefore, prepare Minsk for these holidays and make sure that people are in good mood.

Andrei Shorets, Chairman of the Minsk City Executive Committee (Minsk Mayor):
We have already held a meeting of the trade board and set objectives to curb prices and expand the product range. In order to prevent the rise in prices you are talking about, we decided to create a municipal sales network, which would offer goods at low prices in major chain stores. That is, we will offer an alternative: high quality goods at affordable prices. Today we are talking about some 42 stores of the municipal distribution network. 

Alexander Lukashenko:
You must also secure administrative control over private traders, so they do not inflate prices. Keep it under control. As far as the alternative is concerned, this is good.  But such stores should not become unprofitable because of low prices.
At one time, I was offered to fully privatize trade in Minsk, but back then, I decided against it.  My main goal was to see the processes that occur in trade by managing this state property.
Do not be afraid to expand the scope of state trade, there's nothing terrible about it. Do not stifle private businessmen but just show them the rules of the game. If you see that state traders will have a profitability of 5-7% at such prices, you will be able to compare it with private businessmen's figures and come to conclusion about the fairness of their intentions. Because we cannot afford losses in trade. You will see a general cost structure in the field of trade. 

Minsk stores are ready for Christmas holidays. This can be seen not only in elegant shop windows but also in the expanded product range, which is done prior to one of the main holidays - New Year.