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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Seeks Price Probe For Farmers

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Friday called on government agencies to look into rising prices for fertilizer and oil products while promising 100 billion rubles ($3.4 billion) in subsidies to the agricultural sector.

The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service, the Agriculture Ministry and the Energy Ministry will look into every case of unfair price hikes for oil products, Putin said at a meeting on the agriculture sector. He added that the government would provide a 10 percent discount on the wholesale prices on such products for agricultural enterprises.

The service's deputy head, Andrei Tsyganov, said the watchdog would look into the prices for oil products and that action would be taken if groundless price hikes were found.

In western Russia, diesel oil has already increased 1,000 to 1,300 rubles per ton over the first two weeks of March, he said, while in Siberia and the Far East it has risen as much as 2,300 rubles per ton.

Putin ordered the anti-monopoly service and First Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov to report back on the situation within a week.

Also at the meeting, Putin said the agricultural sector will receive 100 billion rubles ($3.14 billion) in subsidies.

"In 2010, more than 100 billion rubles will be spent on the support of agriculture from the budget alone. Meanwhile more than 25 billion rubles will be spent on the needs of the spring sowing," he said, adding that the state will also reimburse up to 4.7 billion rubles in chemical expenses this year.

In 2009, the government greatly increased its subsidies to the sector, giving 183 billion rubles, a 30 percent increase from the year before, but the support only increased output by 0.5 percent.

He also said state-owned Rosselkhozbank, one of the main lenders for the sector, had lowered its interest rate for seasonal loans to 12 percent for agriculture producers.

The meeting was held in preparation for the spring sowing season, which has been delayed because of the extended winter weather.