Gov’t sets up new body to monitor market for duration of Olympics

The government said yesterday it is setting up a broad informal body to ensure the smooth operation of the market during the Olympic Games period next month, with the participation of 23 agencies representing producers, employers and traders. «The 23 agencies and the Development Ministry will form the group which will oversee and control the smooth functioning of the market through the Olympic Games and the ensuing period. We consider this to be a very significant step forward for the market,» said Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas after a meeting with representatives. «All market players and social partners have shown a high sense of responsibility to date,» he added. His deputy, Yiannis Papathanassiou, expressed confidence the scheme will produce excellent results and the pessimists will be refuted. The informal group will monitor the market and intervene whenever problems arise, such as instances of supply shortages or profiteering, while maintaining continuous contact with the ministry. Officials said the ministry is prepared to be as strict as possible. The president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Drakoulis Fountoukakos, said the Development Ministry’s relevant measures are proving effective and that the situation in the market is smooth. Traders’ and supermarket representatives provided assurances that there will be no price increases and particular attention will be given to the quality of products and services. Others said it is important for the country to gain a good impression among visitors in order to reap long-term benefits. Restaurateurs’ official Costas Zinelis said his association is in continuous contact with the Food Control Agency; with regard to prices he said 48 percent of restaurant revenues go to third parties. President of the Athens Traders’ Association, Panagis Karelas, said the Olympic Games will be a test event for the functioning of the market during the events and afterward, while the National Confederation of Greek Commerce’s Dimitris Armenakis said the Greek market is mature and its smooth functioning requires neither «gentlemen’s agreements» nor price policing measures. President of the Hoteliers’ Chamber of Greece Gerasimos Fokas said about 6,000 of the 35,000 hotel rooms in Athens remain unbooked to date due to high prices, but now many hotels are bringing them down, while efforts were being made in concert with the National Greek Tourism Organization and the Development Ministry for a 35 percent cut in the prices of bottled water, refreshments and coffees served in hotels.