Vendors shun cash registers

Only a negligible number of street market vendors have conformed to legislation mandating the use of cash registers, the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce claimed yesterday as it urged the Finance Ministry to crack down on those who have failed to do so. The confederation said that a nationwide survey it had conducted on the percentage of compliance among vendors was «extremely disappointing.» Only 3 to 20 percent of traders had complied with the requirement, two months after the passage of the legislation, it said. The ruling came into effect March 1. The ministry introduced the requirement on cash registries for small-goods traders at street markets last year, saying this would help to stamp out illegal trade and tax evasion. It said the move would lead to a more level playing field between street vendors and shops. An estimated 360 traders selling clothing, shoes and household products are affected. The ruling does not apply to some 8,200 street market producers around the country. The decision sparked off protests from the vendors and street market producers who launched a nationwide strike which lasted nearly a week. The government, however, stuck to its guns, refusing to repeal the controversial legislation. Shopkeepers, on the other hand, applauded the move. The Finance Ministry should conduct continual checks on street markets to ensure compliance, the confederation said. It said illegal traders were putting «heavy pressure» on legitimate companies. The unfair competition together with the huge number of direct and indirect taxes were driving some sectors out of business, it charged.