Gazprom introduces new domestic market rules
A Ministry of Economy regulation lifted restrictions (used as a regulatory instrument) on the maximum level of gas prices for businesses and individual entrepreneurs. Free gas pricing came into effect on April 18, 2012.
The impact of the new regulation will be limited, due to the fact that administrative price regulation is preserved on gas sales to gas suppliers - members of Beltopgas, as well as to large and “preferred” consumers. Nevertheless, the very fact that Gazprom managed to lobby the abolition of pricing restrictions, though still for a limited number of companies, is very significant.
Therefore Gazprom continues wringing the best economic conditions for itself, while the government unprecedentedly meets its wishes: consumers make gas payments in foreign currency, extra charges increased, and, now free pricing of gas to consumers outside the Beltopgas system has been introduced.
A Ministry of Economy regulation of January 20, 2012 No 9 has set preferential gas price for nitrogen fertilizers producers at $ 218.24 per thousand cubic meters. Beltransgaz sells gas at $ 275.87 per thousand cubic meters (excluding VAT) to all other business entities.
Beltopgas organizations will sell gas at $ 275.87 per thousand cubic meters to enterprises and entrepreneurs, which consumed less than 500 million cubic meters of natural gas in 2011. Legal entities and entrepreneurs, consuming natural gas above the limits set for the replacement of natural gas with oil fuel and other local fuels, will pay $ 375.18 per thousand cubic meters. In 2012 Belarus imports gas at $ 165 per thousand cubic meters.
The Belarusian authorities regard the Catholic conference as yet another international event to promote Minsk as a global negotiating platform. Minsk’s proposal to organise a meeting between the Roman-Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church is rather an image-making undertaking than a serious intention. However, the authorities could somewhat extend the opportunities for the Roman-Catholic Church in Belarus due to developing contacts with the Catholic world.
Minsk is attempting to lay out a mosaic from various international religious, political and sportive events to shape a positive image of Belarus for promoting the Helsinki 2.0 idea.
Belarus’ invitation to the head of the Holy See for a meeting with the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church should be regarded as a continuation of her foreign policy efforts in shaping Minsk’s peacekeeping image and enhancing Belarus’ international weight. The Belarusian authorities are aware that their initiative is unlikely to find supporters among the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. In Russia, isolationist sentiments prevail.
In addition, for domestic audiences, the authorities make up for the lack of tangible economic growth with demonstrations of growth in Minsk’s authority at international level through providing a platform for religious, sportive and other dialogues.