Government starts applying strict antimonopoly measures

At the proposal of the Ministry of Finance, the Serbian government has agreed to import 15,000 tonnes of sunflower cooking oil without customs duties, and thus begin to apply radical antimonopoly measures to bring order into the cooking oil market and prevent further hikes in the price of this product, Serbian Minister of Finance Mladjan Dinkic said today.

Because of the upcoming talks with the World Trade Organisation and EU, the customs duties will not be permanently abolished, rather they will only be on hold for a period of two months. “Once we see what the effects of such measures are, we will have some grounds to help us decide which actions we should take to protect consumers”, Dinkic said at the press conference.

He said that in the last ten months, the price of cooking oil rose by 40.4 percent against December 2004, and 22.4 percent in October alone. Due to these increases, and to the fact that some producers are announcing yet another increase, the Ministry of Finance has determined that there is an element of monopolistic behaviour in the market and decided to take radical steps.

One of these is market liberalisation and customs free import of 15,000 tonnes of cooking oil, which is enough to supply the country’s needs for two months, said Dinkic. On the other hand, he added, in line with the adopted antimonopoly law, the Ministry of Trade will investigate whether there are elements of monopolistic behaviour in the price increase. The Ministry of Trade will also decide in the next several days whether to supply cooking oil to the market out of commodity reserves.

Dinkic said the talks with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) about the completion of the sixth revision of the three-year arrangement are going as planned.

An important package of laws is currently being discussed in the parliament. After its adoption, conditions for calling a session of the IMF’s Board of Directors will be created, said Dinkic and expressed expectation that the laws will be passed in the next ten days or so.