By Dimitra Manifava
The Development and Competitiveness Ministry said on Friday that changes to decisions taken by regional authorities regarding Sunday opening for stores could be made before 2015 as many shopkeepers in the capital have been left fuming that they are not allowed to open on December 29, the last Sunday of the year.
The ministry stated it had not yet received any formal requests from the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce (ESEE) about any further liberalization of the operation of small and medium-sized enterprises. “If such a request arrives, the ministry will examine the amendment of the law [passed earlier this year] so that changes can apply from 2014 instead of 2015 as the existing framework provides for the new decisions to be made by deputy regional governors.”
According to Article 16 of Law 4177/2013, deputy regional governors issue decisions on which Sundays – besides the seven every year when all stores can open – retail shops up to 250 square meters can operate in the area of their jurisdiction. The same article provides for decisions to be revised in January 2015.
The same ministry statement noted that stores will only be allowed to open this Sunday in the areas where deputy regional governors have made specific decisions, such as Thessaloniki, Ioannina and the resorts of Hersonissos and Malevizi in Iraklio, Crete. “Any other practice is illegal,” the ministry stressed in its statement.
It also reiterated its original intention and proposal before the passing of the bill, concerning the optional opening of small commercial stores every Sunday of the year without any decision by regional authorities. However, due to the disagreement by deputies of junior coalition partner PASOK, the final draft of the law which cleared Parliament put the decision in the hands of deputy regional governors.
“The Development Ministry understands the rationale of the demand for stores to operate on December 29, as in most countries around the world. That was why we had proposed this option be given to small and medium-sized enterprises, so that they would have a competitive advantage over shopping malls and store chains,” the ministry stated.