21 January 2018, Sunday, 9:25

Snapkou talks Belarusian out of shopping abroad


The minister of economy thinks prices of goods in Lithuania are the same as in Belarus.

He said it during a Q&A session organised by the newspaper Respublika.

– Belarusians often go shopping abroad. Prices in Poland and Lithuania are lower. Why are they several times lower?

– I wouldn't say they are several times lower. My mother lives in Lithuania. The only significant difference in prices there and in Belarus is utility prices. Utilities really cost much more in Lithuania. I wouldn't say that the difference is so significant for other things, both food and non-food items. There are goods that are cheaper in Belarus, but there are goods that are more expensive. For example, TV sets. The European Union has a common market. The countries have no additional charges, for example customs duties. But if goods from Europe are imported in Belarus, the supplier pays customs duties and import VAT. It increases the price by almost 40%. I am now explaining the pricing logic for the goods that are more expensive in Belarus. But there are goods that are cheaper. As you know, we build the Customs Union. We produce goods and import goods from Russia and Kazakhstan without customs duties. Every country has its own trading and pricing conditions... We live in our conditions. We have these prices, and they cannot be equal with prices in Lithuania and Poland. They cannot be equal even with prices in Russia. For example, food prices are lower 12-60% than in Russia.

– Mr Snapkou, all are afraid that the ruble will fall again after the ice hockey championship...

– Why do we, the Belarusians, scare ourselves and tell horror stories to one another? We carried out the wonderful championship, but are torturing ourselves with such questions. This is wrong. This year, we see a clear example of how to provide the relatively acceptable growth, carry out a balanced foreign economic policy and attract foreign investments in the forecast. Fundamental development factors show everything is okay.

– I live near the tractor plant. I often pass by the plant and see tractors standing not in warehouses, but in the parking lot near plant's checkpoint... I have doubts that our tractors are being sold successfully. If the warehouses are full, why do salaries of workers grow?

– Well, you probably see only a part of tractors, don't you? You don't see the part that they sell. If there were no sales, they would have no money to pay salaries. Inventories on large plants (we produce about 60,000 tractors a year) are a normal thing. Our plants are passing the stress test with rather well, taking into account the current problems in foreign markets, I mean the worsened foreign economic situation, changes in business environment, problems of economic growth and thus problems with investment opportunities of our main trading partners. Our plants look good in this difficult situation. They sell their products, although not so activly as in previous five-year periods, when we had a rather high demand. Plants work and pay decent salaries, which, by the way, can be paid not only at the cost of sales growth, but also at the cost of expenditure cuts.