Call for measures to bolster market

Traders and manufacturers are calling for a series of measures that will contain price rises and bolster the local market and its competitiveness. The Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (EBEA) has called on the government to deregulate the opening hours of gas stations, to allow supermarkets to operate their own gas stations, to create auction facilities for agricultural products, to lift limitations on the supply of bake-off bread by supermarkets and to strengthen the Competition Commission and consumer associations. «Healthy competition in the Greek market must be strengthened further, particularly in the domains of fuel and food, with a simultaneous liberalization of transport services,» said EBEA president Costas Michalos. Regarding the liberalization of fuel sales, the chamber is asking the government to heed the recommendations of the Competition Commission as «the European experience has shown that this can make prices decline.» Today in Greece there are about 15 gasoline stations operated by supermarkets, mostly by the Carrefour and Veropoulos groups. EBEA also proposes self-service stations, to further push prices down. EBEA is additionally seeking the creation of auction facilities for agricultural products in all 13 regions of the country to operate on the basis of stock market rules, and for producers to have their own transport means subject to certain regulations. This, EBEA suggests, will cut down the role of middlemen and close the gap between producer and retail prices. It will also bolster the activity of agricultural cooperatives in shipping and selling their products. Finally, EBEA stresses that the rise in cereal prices increases the need to revise restrictions on bake-off bread sold by supermarkets, as the latter sell such products at considerably lower prices.