ECONOMY

Government plans to inform public about their euros

The government yesterday sought to dispel concerns over possible price rises and teething problems in the introduction of the European common currency in just over a month’s time and said it would do its utmost to ensure that the euro is ushered in as smoothly as possible. The consumer must continuously feel that the government is with him, working for his interests, to inform him and supervise all transactions, said Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis after a three-hour Cabinet meeting on the issue. Measures the government is introducing to help inform the public include a three-digit telephone number accessible on a 24-hour basis and a widespread network of information stalls, even in street markets. Banks will be asked to remain open for longer hours to ensure that adequate supplies of coins and notes reach firms and individuals. ATMs will disburse euro notes as of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The decision by banks not to open for business on that day should help them prepare to meet demands better after January 1. He said the euro would bring substantial benefits for the country’s economy and the consumer. The euro will mean a period of cheaper services and products because they will be more competitive in a single European market, being priced in the same currency in all countries, Christodoulakis said. In no way must prices rise and they will not rise. No consumer must accept either covert or overt price rises. He said the general feeling among ministers is that public services are reasonably prepared for the transition, but that problems can be expected in the private sector, particularly among small firms, which have not yet adapted sufficiently to the coming changeover. ITEP said the misplaced focus on domestic tourism is a sharp reminder of the government’s amateurish approach towards the tourism industry, with inappropriate and so-called experts setting out fallacious views of the sector.