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The government and oil companies have agreed to limit the rise in prices for gasoline and diesel in January-March next year.

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Until the end of this year, the prices for gasoline and diesel at gas stations of large companies in Russia will be frozen, and in January of next year, given the increase in the base VAT rate from 18 to 20 percent, the fuel may rise by a maximum of 1.7 percent. More oil prices will not allow the oil industry agreement, which they actually began to implement on November 1, and legally formalized by November 7.
This is stated in the minutes of the meeting, which was held by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak with the Ministry of Energy, the Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS) and oil companies. It also clarifies that from February 1 to March 31 of next year, the rise in retail prices will also be limited, but by the level of average annual inflation. The basis of the forecast will take the Ministry of Economic Development. Dmitry Kozak said that we are talking about an increase of 4-4.6 percent for the year, that is, after deducting January, prices will allow to increase evenly by no more than a quarter of a percent every month. Despite the fact that the agreement between the government and oil companies is valid until the end of March, it can be extended.
The authorities will monitor compliance with the terms of the agreement daily, according to the protocol. If suddenly someone from the oil industry breaks them (raises retail prices, reduces shipments to the domestic market, etc.), the Ministry of Energy and the Federal Antimonopoly Service will prepare response measures within three days. It is assumed that this will be the introduction of a protective tax on the export of petroleum products. The FAS and the Federal Tax Service (FTS) are ordered to take into account the peculiarities of the current pricing procedure and the situation on the market as a whole, that is, if no one violates the conditions, companies will retain the right to avoid additional income tax accrual and be held accountable under antimonopoly control.
Concrete obligations to contain prices were imposed on ten companies, they are also the largest market participants. These are Gazprom, Gazprom Neft, Tatneft, LUKOIL, Rosneft, TAIF-NK, Surgutneftegaz, as well as RussNeft, Novy Stream and Neftegazholding. Chains of gas stations that are not dependent on these companies will also be checked for price increases: the FAS and the FTS must do this on an unplanned basis, “paying special attention” to those who have exceeded indicative prices by more than 4 percent (for each region, the price of fuel in rubles for ton providing the minimum marginality of independent operators).
Among other things, fuel retailers will leave SPIMEX, but only until March 31 of next year, “to avoid speculative transactions.” Proposals on how to do this will be submitted to the government by the FAS, the Bank of Russia and the exchange itself. Only petrol networks and final consumers of fuel (industry, agriculture) will be able to buy gas and diesel there. In addition, it is still debated whether it is necessary to introduce a flexible excise tax, the ratio of oil supplies to plants and licenses for the export of petroleum products.
“They will monitor the fulfillment of the terms of the agreement every day. If any company violates them, punishment will follow for all within three days”
According to estimates by VTB Capital, based on data from Thomson Reuters Kortes, now the average wholesale prices for AI-92 and AI-95 gasoline in the central part of Russia are already 6–8 percent lower than the level agreed with the government, while diesel prices close to the agreed level.
Analysts view the new agreement between the government and manufacturers as a departure from market pricing, however, Dmitry Kozak stressed that this is not state regulation, since it is practically impossible to introduce it in the Russian fuel segment.
Despite the "non-market" of such a measure as price freezing at network gas stations, there was probably no other way to stop the painful process of "gasoline inflation turned into a social challenge". This conclusion was reached by a team of experts from the Gaidar Institute, the RANEPA and the Ministry of Economic Development in the latest bulletin "Monitoring the Economic Situation in Russia". It is impossible to unravel the "tangle of problems" consisting of the tax maneuver, the interests and dependencies of gas stations and plants among themselves, as well as unpredictable oil prices due to market regulation alone.
“Attempts to find a way out only in liberalizing this segment of the Russian economy with its more than peculiar structure and administration look like illusory,” the authors of the monitoring believe. “Not to mention that in the event of a fall in world oil prices, the attractiveness of export and, consequently, the threat the exposure of the domestic market is sharply reduced. "
"1.7 percent will be the maximum allowable increase in the cost of a liter of fuel at gas stations in January next year"
Current solutions will at least bring short-term stability in the retail market, where consumers should not be afraid of price spikes. However, it is from April, when the agreement may expire, the market will enter a phase of recovery: demand will start to grow and repairs will start at the plants.

Source: Rossiyskaya Gazeta

07.11.2018 06:35:01
(Automatic translation)

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