Affordable prices come from active competition
By Vladimir Khromov
Alexander Lukashenko sees a positive effect from the development of competition in trade which contributes to the provision of population with goods at affordable prices
Competition in trade sphere — guarantor of acceptable prices
This was noted by the Head of State during his meeting with Pavel Topuzidis, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Tabak Invest Ltd., which tackled the businessman’s proposals regarding the development of retail trade outlets in Belarus.
The President of Belarus supported Mr. Topuzidis’ proposals, regarding the development of a retail chain in Belarus, but warned against suppressing the operation of neighbourhood retailers.
The President also praised the systemic work of Pavel Topuzidis’ business in retail and stressed that the approach should be an example for others to follow. “I don’t see any major problems with what you are suggesting. I think that normal, not small and not large but average retail enterprises, one can even say compact ones, should be developed in Belarus, particularly in view of competition considerations,” noted the President. “I’m rather ready to agree to it”.
“You are prepared to build up to 130 shopping centres all over the country — several average ones and a couple of major ones. I think it is quite feasible to accomplish this in Belarus,” said the Head of State. Mr. Lukashenko underlined that he was not concerned about the scale of the proposal, because Mr. Topuzidis had earned a reputation as an honest businessman.
“I’d love to see a sufficient number of such businessmen in Belarus who could be beacons and examples of good practice in this or that area, and in the construction of such enterprises,” noted the President.
Mr. Lukashenko also said he would like prosperous citizens of Belarus, entrepreneurs, to more actively invest in their own country. “We could use more investment, and investments from citizens of Belarus, the people who live here, earning money and trying to expand their business. I welcome it and you know it. We talked about it a long time ago. It is good that you deliver on your promises,” added Mr. Lukashenko.
Nevertheless, the President reminded that he had instructed executive bodies to accurately handle the construction of retail outlets, particularly in Minsk, in order to prevent major retailers from choking convenience stores. “We cannot destroy them. They must exist. At the same time, we need as many major trade centres that you and other people are building, as necessary. Meanwhile, preventing them from destroying the existing convenience stores is our primary concern,” stressed the Head of State.
“You encourage competition. It’s very important for the trade sector, and there is a lack of competition now. Competition ensures fair prices,” assured the President.
Mr. Lukashenko also spoke about trade in the countryside and small district capitals. In his words, competition can drive prices down in these settlements. “There are businessmen in Belarus who are ready to take charge of trade in entire regions and rural communities, to reach out to each villager and make sure that every one of them receives decent customer service,” noted the President. “Belkoopsoyuz confronts it vehemently. However, we gave consumer co-operatives time to learn how to provide adequate customer service to Belarusian villagers and to set reasonable prices. Indeed, it turns out that products made by villagers are sold in the countryside at higher prices compared to the city.”
“It is clear that logistics and delivery costs money. However, we need to look for other solutions in order to avoid rising prices for food staples and clothing in the countryside. This should be regulated by the market. For that, competition is needed,” believes the Head of State.