Price Liberalization and Antimonopoly
A modern vector of the price policy is defined by creating an environment for an efficient use of resources increasing economy competitiveness, implementing priorities of the national economic policy and stable growth in the living standards of the country’s population.
In 2007, attempts to maintain a positive trend in reducing the inflation level failed and in December 2007 it was at the level of 12.1%
In Belarus, price rise rates in terms of components of the consumer basket were as follows: food products – 115.9%; nonfood goods – 105.9% and paid services for the consumers – 110.5%.
Moreover, the Government is making efforts to further liberalize prices. Development of price liberalization processes implies compliance with the following conditions:
• stimulating market pricing methods in competitive sectors of the economy;
• validating market pricing methods for specific types of activity in the sectors of natural monopolies;
• simplifying norms and rules regulating pricing and conditions of economic activity in combination with effective and unified control to be exercised;
• improving antimonopoly regulation and competitive policy.
As regards the first condition, such sectors as consumer and food industries directly operating in the consumer market predominantly use market pricing methods excluding a short list of socially significant goods. Using market pricing methods promotes liberalization in export-oriented sectors, such as refinery, chemical, machine- building and some other sectors.
The power engineering and housing and utilities sectors are natural monopolies, therefore, prices and tariffs for their products are directly regulated by the Government.
Prerequisites are also available in the housing and utilities sector to implement market components of management not only in providing municipal services, but also directly housing and public utilities services for the consumers. Hence, opportunities for liberalizing pricing in this sphere are being expanded.
In the short-term period, the national antimonopoly policy is to be focused on preventing restriction of competition by administrative authorities and enterprises and their associations dominating in the market; providing equal conditions for manufacturers irrespective of the form of ownership and departmental affiliation; protecting from unfair competition; identifying and eliminating barriers preventing free circulation of goods in the country; and creating an environment for promoting competition in the internal markets.
State control of antimonopoly legislation is carried out by the Ministry of Economy.
The Republic of Belarus prohibits activity of economic operators that occupy dominating position on commodity market provided the activity results or can result in limitation of competition or inflicting damage to the rights, liberties or legitimate interests of other economic operators or consumers.
The Republic of Belarus prohibits any monopolization of production or products sale, exercise of powers which result or can result in illegal limitation of competition, and formation of economic operators’ associations aimed or resulting in monopolization of production or products sale or other limitation of competition.
The above limitations do not cover cases of establishment and administration of state or other legal monopolies set up in the Republic of Belarus in conformity with the current legislation. The Ministry of Economy of the Republic of Belarus regulates transactions with shares, property shares, or shares in statutory funds of these economic operators with a view to prevent emerging or strengthening economic operators’ supremacy on commodity market.
In order to implement the above transactions, legal or natural persons are obliged to file a request to an antimonopoly authority that they agree for their implementation, and provide information needed to make a decision. Transactions violating established order, leading to emerging or strengthening of supremacy on the commodity market or limiting competition can be void in a judicial proceeding at the suit of antimonopoly authority or other persons concerned.
The legislation of the Republic of Belarus also prohibits state authorities to adopt acts, conclude agreements or perform other activities provided such activities result or can result in limitation of competition of inflicting damage to the rights, liberties or legitimate interests of other economic operators or citizens.
The state bodies are also prohibited to conclude agreements with other state bodies or economic operators in case the agreements aimed at limitation of competition, sharing commodity market, exclusion or limitation of access to commodity market for other economic operators, illegal rise, lowering of maintaining of prices, including those at auctions or biddings or inflicting damage to the rights, liberties or legitimate interests of other economic operators or citizens.