ECONOMY

The fight against cartels

The government is determined to break the «abscess» of cartels, Deputy Development Minister Yiannis Papathanassiou told Kathimerini in an interview. He insists that the enterprises that refuse to recognize this will be «simply banging their heads against the wall.» Referring to the much-publicized case of the alleged cartel for fresh milk, Papathanassiou says that the Competition Commission, which will complete its report by the end of April, has been subject to an attempt by the enterprises involved and the president of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV), Dimitris Daskalopoulos, to undermine it morally and institutionally. «I think they are committing a strategic mistake,» he said, insisting that he has urged the Commission to speed up inspections and apply the law without exceptions. «I accept criticism,» he asserted, «no matter how unfair it may be. But not mudslinging.» Papathanassiou argues that despite the fact that the dairies recently put up their prices again, things are improving for the consumer. «The price of milk, as of all products, is not determined by the Development Ministry but by the market. We have sent the new facts to the Competition Commission and they will investigate again. But we should not forget that the consumer can now find a liter of fresh milk in supermarkets for 0.85 euros. This has happened under the present government, when supermarkets were forced by the Competition Commission to abandon harmonized practices. It has also been announced that bakeries will now join the price war in fresh milk… Competition is beginning to work.» Papathanassiou asserted that delays in the Commission’s investigation of other cartels, particularly in fuel distribution, are the result of efforts to conduct a more thorough probe. «The delay is due to the fact that the Commission decided to open these files again after the arrest of one of its senior members on corruption charges. «It was deemed that the arguments of the firms implicated should be heard again before the Commission issues its final ruling.»