President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Mr Shaskolsky, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service has many responsibilities, and price control is one of them. This is especially important today. Indeed, at the moment, we are keeping inflation within certain boundaries, and it is declining; it is showing a downward trend. Still, how is this work proceeding? I would like to hear your report.
Head of the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service Maxim Shaskolsky: Mr President,
Applying price controls in the markets of socially significant goods is our priority. I am talking not only about food products, but also medicines, petroleum products, building materials and cellular communications services.
Our food production market is well developed; it is a highly competitive market with a large number of participants. Therefore, in this area, the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service’s efforts include measures to help boost harvests and production volumes. For example, we are monitoring the process of allocating government subsidies to agricultural producers, and have issued about 35 warnings in recent time to the various bodies that are responsible for ensuring that agricultural producers have non-discriminatory access to such subsidies.
In addition, work is underway to ensure that our agricultural producers have enough mineral fertiliser at affordable prices. To this end, we have worked together with our colleagues from the relevant ministries to develop a trade and marketing policy that incorporates the procedures for pricing fertilisers and indexing their prices, and the upper limits for distributors’ charges. These trade and marketing policies have been approved by major producers of mineral fertilisers; the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service takes steps to enforce compliance. As a result, our agricultural producers are fully provided with mineral fertilisers at affordable prices.
Another instruction you gave us had to do with retail chain markups on socially significant food items. We have taken steps to ensure that the markups on socially significant food products in federal retail chains have gone down from 22 to 5.5 percent. Such responsible pricing was also supported by 79 regional retail chains. We have carried out additional work with regard to specific foods such as bread, milk, sugar, the so-called borsch basket, and federal retail chains have made commitments to maintain a margin of no more than 5 percent for the most popular goods in each category.
Vladimir Putin: Good.
What else would you like to discuss? Go ahead, please.
Maxim Shaskolsky: As I said, we are also working on the pharmaceuticals market. We have a list of vital, essential medicines; we have revised the prices of 14,000 such medicines, of which 7,000 have been reduced by an average of 35 percent.
In the building materials market, we found that the rise in prices was caused not only by market conditions, but also by certain businesses’ actions, which, among other things, focused on the so-called export alternative. We have conducted a number of investigations and filed lawsuits against certain metals companies, as well as makers of building materials from wood, aerated concrete, and glass. More investigations are ongoing. We can say that this is one of the reasons why the prices of a number of building materials are going down.
Vladimir Putin: Good. This is very important, above all, considering our housing construction plans.