Gazprom introduces new domestic market rules
A Ministry of Economy regulation lifted restrictions (used as a regulatory instrument) on the maximum level of gas prices for businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Free gas pricing came into effect on April 18, 2012.
The impact of the new regulation will be limited, due to the fact that administrative price regulation is preserved on gas sales to gas suppliers - members of Beltopgas, as well as to large and “preferred” consumers. Nevertheless, the very fact that Gazprom managed to lobby the abolition of pricing restrictions, though still for a limited number of companies, is very significant.
Therefore Gazprom continues wringing the best economic conditions for itself, while the government unprecedentedly meets its wishes: consumers make gas payments in foreign currency, extra charges increased, and, now free pricing of gas to consumers outside the Beltopgas system has been introduced.
A Ministry of Economy regulation of January 20, 2012 No 9 has set preferential gas price for nitrogen fertilizers producers at $ 218.24 per thousand cubic meters. Beltransgaz sells gas at $ 275.87 per thousand cubic meters (excluding VAT) to all other business entities.
Beltopgas organizations will sell gas at $ 275.87 per thousand cubic meters to enterprises and entrepreneurs, which consumed less than 500 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2011. Legal entities and entrepreneurs, consuming natural gas above the limits set for the replacement of natural gas with oil fuel and other local fuels, will pay $ 375.18 per thousand cubic meters. In 2012 Belarus imports gas at $ 165 per thousand cubic meters.
The Belarusian authorities could to step up the opposition representation in local councils, should party members demonstrate potency. The Belarusian leadership is unlikely to have the resources to ensure 100 percent pro-government candidates in the local elections. The authorities have exhausted the grassroot support and have no funds to pay for the loyalty.
The Belarusian Central Election Commission has proposed to hold the elections to the local Councils of Deputies on February 18th, 2018.
The president has repeatedly emphasised the importance of the local councils in the power system and the state machine always tried to ensure the necessary local election results. Candidates have been decreasing in number with each elections and the authorities dealt with that by reducing the deputy corps. That said, during the rule of President Lukashenka, his electoral base has changed substantially. Over the past decade, most Belarusians have moved to cities and lost their local roots. The rural population is ready to support the president, but rural residents are constantly decreasing in number.
The Belarusian leadership is likely to permit broad participation in the election campaign and an increase in alternative representatives in the local councils. However, the opposition would have to boost its activity, so as so far it has been passive in defending its interests. In addition, the authorities, while determining the date for the local elections, have taken into account the fact that the opposition is usually the least active in the winter time.
Overall, both, the opposition and the local authorities have exhausted their grassroot support, however new local leaders may still come on political stage, although the party opposition has not yet shown sufficient aspirations.