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Starting ‘not tomorrow, but today,’ Lukashenko orders price freeze in Belarus
The President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko ordered a price freeze across all business sectors, beginning on October 6. Belta reports Lukashenko’s announcement at today’s meeting with the economic segment of his government:
From October 6 onward, any price hikes are forbidden. Forbidden! Starting today. Not tomorrow, but today. So that they don’t jack up the prices in 24 hours. So, beginning today, raising prices is forbidden. And god forbid that some bookkeeper would try to calculate and recalculate something retroactively.
Lukashenko explained his decision by saying that prices in Belarus are “off the charts.” “They’re pushing the ceiling,” he said. “Prices cannot be permitted to rise higher. There’s no need. But there can be some exceptions. And those exceptions are under the minister’s and the governors’ control,” he said, referring to the minister of trade and antitrust regulation.
Lukashenko also demanded that no business should try to close following this order. “God forbid that some store would leave the market, or close, or some office or hole-in-the-wall and the rest of them. God forbid they try to leave. You will answer for this,” said Lukashenko to his government officials.
During the meeting, Lukashenko also said that, in the first eight months of 2022, inflation in Belarus topped 13 percent, and by the end of the year inflation of about 19 percent can be expected. “And you want to raise the prices even more in that remaining time?” he demanded. The government and Belarus’s National Bank are tasked with lowering the level of inflation to 7–8 percent by 2023.
From January to August 2022, inflation in Belarus was 13.8 percent, according to Belstat, the country’s statistics agency. Annual inflation, from August 2021 to August 2022, came to 17.9 percent.
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