30 Dec 2009 14:44

Lukashenko: Belarus fighting for gas, oil prices

MINSK. Dec 30 (Interfax) - Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has called difficult a situation surrounding the formation of prices for oil and gas Belarus will have to pay in 2010.

"A fight is going on these days, which you are not seeing. This can even be called a battle for gas and oil prices. Nowhere else have they become more expensive than in Belarus this year. And we have been offered even higher prices for gas next year, which means, based on certain formulas, that the prices for oil should grow as well," Lukashenko said at a press conference for Belarusian media in Minsk on Wednesday.

Lukashenko says he regrets that "only one seller has this commodity." Therefore, "if this component grows, what can you do about growth in prices [on the domestic market]?" he said.

"We might freeze the prices tomorrow as well. But where will this lead? We have been through that already. Supply shortage," he said.

"When an economy is in crisis - and it is very difficult to settle anything down during a crisis - it is better not to intervene," Lukashenko said. "You better let the economy resurface on its own but keep certain processes under control," he said.

In the present conditions, "there is a need to give more freedom to the economy and people's initiative," he said.

"The economy has begun picking up. If we have bottomed out or are bottoming out right now, there should be no negative consequences, including growth in prices," he said.