Moves mulled to free markets

In line with recommendations by the country?s international creditors, known as the troika, the government is reported to be planning measures to abolish technical restrictions that are maintaining a high number of closed-shop activities and keeping general price levels high despite a notable decline in salaries in recent years.

The areas in question include energy, fuel, foodstuffs, private schools, shop hours and the professions of lawyers, accountants, architects and others.

The effect of the existing restrictions is evident in the fact that despite the contraction of the economy and private consumption by more than 17 percent in the 2008-12 period, the consumer price index has risen 10 percent. Labor costs have also fallen considerably.

The troika has pointed out in reports to the government that this incongruity is mainly due to legal obstacles in the free distribution of goods and services. Gas station owners, for instance, are theoretically free to import cheaper fuels but are hampered by a regulation that they must have enough space to store a certain quantity for 60 days.