Prices and rumours
At a press conference of the Head of Antimonopoly and Price Policy Department of the Minsk Executive Committee Iosif Rachitsky on 5 May the rise of prices on some imported goods has been reported.
“We are monitoring the situation in 81 groups of goods. The following price changes took place in the course of the last week: prices on pasta increased by 17%, cereals by 14%, sausages by 3% and salami by 0.23%. Fish prices (Pollack, Argentina, Hake) increased by 12-16%. Prices on oranges and lemons went up by 8%. Prices on bananas went up by 3% last week, mandarins by 6%. The most significantly went up the price on coffee: by 20-47% last month, tea price increased by 38%. The price of imported wheat flour remained unchanged, while the Belarusian grew by 2%”.
Data provided by the government official regarding the price increase follows the general line of the authorities, i.e. to underestimate the problem, keep silent about the difficulties. First of all, information about the price increases reflected last week’s increase only. The official failed to quote the overall rise in prices for these goods from the beginning of the currency crisis. Namely, the imported fish has risen from a total of 30% to 50%, depending on particular type of fish with more expensive type of fish prices growing slower. The more so he said nothing about the rising prices on domestic goods: the prices on raw meat increased by an average of 20% (including chicken), bread by 10%, some kinds of bread by 30% and waffles by 30 to 40%.
The main intrigue is the inflation rate, it will be revealed by the National Statistics Committee. In May, one should expect a rise in prices on a variety of goods, particularly, on sausages and pastries, given the share of imported components in these goods reaching 40%. In May, one should expect a rise in prices on a variety of goods, particularly, on sausages and pastries, given the share of imported components in these goods reaching 40%.
An increase in the subsistence wage by 15.6% has also been reported last week (this value is a statistical unit used to calculate social benefits), however it does not cover the rise in prices over the past period and bearing in mind that this value is usually reviewed with great delay, one can expect that the gap between the growth of this index and the price index growth will continue increasing.
President Lukashenka continues to rotate staff and rejuvenate heads of departments and universities following new appointments in regional administrations. Apparently, new Information Minister Karliukevich could somewhat relax the state policy towards the independent media and introduce technological solutions for retaining control over Belarus’ information space. New rectors could strengthen the trend for soft Belarusization in the regions and tighten the disciplinary and ideological control over the student movement in the capital.
President Lukashenka has appointed new ministers of culture and information, the new rector of the Belarusian State University and heads of three universities, assistants in the Minsk and Vitebsk regions.
The new Information Minister Karliukevich is likely to avoid controversial initiatives similar to those former Minister Ananich was famous for, however, certainly within his capacities. Nevertheless, the appointment of Belarusian-speaking writer Karliukevich could be regarded as the state’s cautious attempt to relax environment in the media field and ensure the sovereignty of national media.
The Belarusian leadership has consolidated the trend for mild Belarusization by appointing a young historian and a ‘reasonable nationalist’, Duk as the rector at the Kuleshov State University in Mogilev. Meanwhile, while choosing the head of the Belarusian State University, the president apparently had in mind the strengthening of the ideological loyalty among the teaching staff and students at the main university in order to keep the youth movement at bay. Previously, Korol was the rector of the Kupala State University in Grodno, where he held purges among the disloyal teaching staff.
The trend for the renewal of mid-ranking executives and their rejuvenation has confirmed. The age of the Culture Minister and three new rectors varies from 39 to 44 years old.