Enhancement of the administrative control
Decree No 114 of February 27, 2012, empowered the local authorities and the Pricing Policy Department of the Ministry of Economy of Belarus to organize ad hoc inspections of enterprises “in order to timely detect and suppress violations of anti-monopoly legislation”.
Moreover, such inspections could be organized regardless of the grounds stipulated in the legislation. The decree envisages severe penalties for violations of antitrust legislation and unfair competition.
The authorities believe such ad hoc inspections will allow them to detect and deter cases of violation of the legislation, including facts of price collusion, violations of prohibitions, and (or) restrictions on the sale of goods (works, services) introduced by the government in some administrative regions of Belarus. The Decree also envisages strengthening of the penalties for violation of the anti-monopoly legislation.
Therefore, any manufacturer could be accused of a monopoly (if share of sales is more than 30%) therefore tightening of the legislation could be interpreted as an attempt to treat high prices and inflation with increased repression.
This is a new/old logic of the authorities: instead of liberalization, privatization and the simplification of the business environment, opening markets to foreign competition, they introduce new restrictions and new (ad hoc) inspections. It contradicts the generally declared intention to liberalize the economy and casts the country two years behind in its attempt to liberalize the pricing policy.
Last week, Belarusian Foreign Minister Makei participated in the foreign ministers’ meeting of the Eastern Partnership and Visegrad Group initiative hosted by Warsaw. The Belarusian FM emphasized Belarus' interest in cooperation in the transport sector, which could be due to Belarus’ desire to export electricity surplus after Belarus finished construction of the nuclear power plant in Ostrovets. Minsk expressed concerns about Warsaw’s stance on the Belarusian NPP, as it refused to buy electricity from Belarus and supported Vilnius’ protest on this issue. Following accusations by the Belarusian leadership and the state media against western states, including Poland, of training "nationalist militants", Minsk did not agree on the visit of the European Parliament deputies from Lithuania and Germany to Belarus and to the NPP construction site near Ostrovets in particular. In addition, the Belarusian authorities have stepped up efforts to enforce education in Russian in Polish-language schools in Grodno and Vaukavysk. Should a rift in Belarusian-Polish relations persist, the Belarusian authorities are likely to step up the pressure on the Polish-speaking minority in Belarus.