Lukashenka firm on tough new rules for market vendors

The government should ignore market vendors' resentment and move ahead with plans to secure an even playing field for all retailers in Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Trade Minister Uladzimir Kaltovich on Tuesday.

 
The government should ignore market vendors' resentment and move ahead with plans to secure an even playing field for all retailers in Belarus, Alyaksandr Lukashenka told Trade Minister Uladzimir Kaltovich on Tuesday.

Mr. Lukashenka indicated that he would not agree to soften the tough new rules introduced for market vendors by his Edict No. 222.

«Do things that would create equal conditions for state-owned, private and foreign retailers,» the government's news agency BelTA quoted him as saying. «And don't look at strikes staged by some market vendors or someone else. We reached a clear agreement last year. We are not boys that they can fool, especially me.»

Mr. Lukashenka accused market vendors of «ruining» Belarus' light industry. According to him, clothing imports from China, Russia, Turkey and other countries lead to a fall in sales of domestically produced goods. «The more so as [clothing is brought in] without documents, certificates,» he said.

Accepting market vendors' demands and lifting the ban on the sale of goods without accompanying documents would be tantamount to legalizing crime, Mr. Lukashenka warned.

«And then they should understand that requiring goods to be certified is just the first step,» he said. «We will make all the steps this year. If you have an invoice, all accompanying documents, certificates come and sell your goods. If you don't have them you won't be selling your goods.»

Mr. Lukashenka said that the government was taking the sector under control. «Then there will be a level playing field for everyone - market vendors, other private businesses, state-owned companies — in the light industry, in trade in Belarus,» he said. «They always demand a level playing field. Here it is.»

Mr. Lukashenka's edict, which bans market vendors from selling clothing and footwear without quality certificates and other accompanying documents, has forced thousands of traders to keep their stalls shut since the start of this year.