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.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.