The discussion focussed on the practical implementation of the goals stated in the Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly.
Economic Development Minister Alexei Ulyukayev explained the causes behind price rises. Mr Ulyukayev said that consumer prices for foodstuffs as of December 1 were up 13.1 percent compared to last year. This, he said, is due in part to imbalances on the goods markets, including because of restrictions on imports of a number of foodstuffs. He said that this situation with foodstuffs prices could continue until the end of the first quarter next year. Starting in the second quarter of 2015, growth in foodstuffs prices is expected to slow down as producers adapt to the new situation and import supplies become more diversified.
Rising petrol prices on the domestic market, which has seen an increase of 9.4 percent this year, are due to a reduction in physical volumes of petrol supplies, Mr Ulyukayev said. The rise in costs of medicines is slightly higher than the consumer price index and comes to 11.6 percent.
Overall, in Mr Ulyukayev’s view, there are good prospects for bucking the price rise trend on the foodstuffs market and on markets for other important consumer goods.
Mr Putin stressed the point that the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service and other oversight agencies, with assistance from the Economic Development Ministry, must constantly study this matter so as to ensure that market actors do not take action for which there are no objective justifications.
Healthcare Minister Veronika Skvortsova spoke about the work underway to raise medical personnel’s qualifications in preparation for the introduction in 2016 of compulsory accreditation of medical sector workers.
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President of Russia Vladimir Putin: Good afternoon, colleagues.
Today we will work in two formats: first the discussion will be held by those present and later we will be joined by our colleagues from companies with state participation.
Both in the first and the second case, we will talk about implementing the Address [to the Federal Assembly]. I would like to thank the Government, the Government leadership for the prompt response to the Presidential Address. I know that the Prime Minister has already prepared instructions to be issued on this subject. Thank you very much.
There are some points we will need to talk about in this format, and we will do this now, but first we should discuss a few urgent issues.
I’d like to start by asking Mr Ulyukayev, the Minister of Economic Development, to say a few words about the consumer inflation issue. There are obviously some objective circumstances here, the situation with imports and the change in our currency’s exchange rate due to the drop in global energy prices. These are objective causes. Another objective cause is the restrictions that we introduced on imports of foodstuffs. We see this as a temporary problem because the current price situation is linked to the costs our companies are bearing and the need to increase production. This will ultimately benefit our agriculture sector and indeed our entire country.
But some of what we see is cause for question. Prices for petroleum products rose by 10 percent as of December 1, even though global oil prices have dropped by 35 percent. The questions do not end here. The whole situation would not be such cause for question if it were not for the fact that most of the price growth is in the retail segment, while wholesale prices are dropping. What are we to make of this? Where is the Federal Anti-Monopoly Service? I’d like to hear a few words on these issues.