ECONOMY

Promises to keep prices low

Representatives of five multinationals with wide-selling consumer products on the Greek market promised yesterday not to increase prices for the rest of the year – and even reduce them in the case of some products – and to keep any increases next year at reasonable levels. Top managers from Procter & Gamble, Unilever, Colgate-Palmolive, Henkel and L’Oreal announced their intentions yesterday after meeting with Deputy Development Minister Kimon Koulouris, who is in charge of trade and competition issues. The meeting was prompted by accusations of retail representatives that multinational companies charge up to 40 percent more for their products than they do in other European Union countries. Company representatives told Koulouris that, with few exceptions, their price rises this year were below inflation and claimed that they take consumer demand into account in shaping up their prices. Talking to reporters after the meeting, Koulouris said that he considered the companies’ explanations for their price rises as adequate. «My policy is to push the companies to make public commitments. I am not a market cop,» Koulouris said. The government’s effort to contain inflation, currently running at a 3.3 percent annual pace, got a boost this month when large retail chains announced they would freeze their prices until the end of the year. The Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) reacted by accusing both the government and retailers of putting on a show.