BUSINESS

Deregulation helped consumers and employment, KEPE study finds

DIMITRA MANIFAVA

TAGS: Economy

Consumers and employment in Greece have enjoyed considerable benefits from the opening up of commodity markets implemented since 2010 (in the context of the bailout programs and the recommendations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development), according to a study by the Center of Planning and Economic Research (KEPE).

The study also showed on Wednesday that the lifting of regulations concerning the status of offers and sales has led to a reduction in product prices, with KEPE recommending the further liberalization of the institutional framework.

The analysis assessed five main markets (baby formula, food supplements and vitamins, bakeries, cement, and offers and sales) where significant steps were taken toward their liberalization. It found an expanded range (up to 25 percent) of prices available in baby milk, food supplements and retail commerce in general.

Notably, if the deregulation measures had been implemented at a time when there wasn’t a financial crisis and major tax hikes (such as the considerable increase in value-added tax rates), KEPE estimates that there would be even more positive consequences, with a greater increase in employment and additional strengthening of entrepreneurship.

Most of the reforms generated major clashes between the government and the parties concerned, or among the latter, but in many cases new markets have opened up, as in supermarkets being allowed to bake bread from frozen dough, which led to remarkable investment in retail commerce and in industry.

“The interventions in the institutional framework of retail offers and sales resulted in downward pressures on product prices, which were examined according to the highest range of prices during the entire year, not just in the sales periods. That means consumers have probably benefitted from the changes, while the intermediary sales [in spring and fall] had a similar but weaker impact on prices,” the KEPE report reads.

It does add, however, that some prices may have dropped due to the economic conjuncture.

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