MOSCOW, December 26 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's economic development and trade minister said Monday that the lack of competition in the country's housing and utilities, transportation, and energy sectors was one of the reasons behind high inflation.
"The lack of competition is a key problem facing the Russian economy," German Gref said in an interview published in the Monday edition of Russian Newsweek. "There are too few highly competitive markets in Russia, hence inflation. You see, prices have grown by a lot in the sectors with no competition: housing and utilities, natural gas, electricity, and railroad services."
Gref said the government had not yet carried out reforms in the given sectors. "The main problem is that we have failed to conduct reforms that would ensure the sufficient concentration of capital, production and proposals in sync with a market economy, without which competition is impossible."
"It is red tape, not entrepreneurs, that are the source of the problem," Gref said. "Our bureaucrats are too slow. Entrepreneurs and investors are extremely dynamic on markets where bureaucrats are gone. We can see that they provide quality services there."
The government originally fixed an inflation target of 8.5%-10% for 2005. But inflation is now expected to hit 11%-11.2%.