Gov’t tightens screws on prices

Facing increasing public discontent, the Development Ministry said yesterday it would speed up the implementation of a number of measures to combat rising consumer prices, including the publication of the names of firms found to be profiteering. Development Minister Christos Folias and his deputy, Giorgos Vlachos, conferred ahead of today’s Cabinet meeting that will focus on the problem. Vlachos hinted that the Development Ministry was at odds with the Economy and Finance Ministry over some of the measures. «We are going it alone,» he said. The remark was interpreted as reflecting disagreement about whether invoices should indicate the discounts granted by food manufacturers to supermarkets, and about the setting up of a «market squad» to monitor profiteering, as the Development Ministry wants. Invoices «We’ll back them in any way they want, provided they decide what they want. Many enterprises already mark the discounts on the invoices. It they wish to make it compulsory in order to control real profit margins, it is not a tax matter and falls within their scope of responsibility,» said Economy and Finance Ministry sources. The 10 measures decided upon for immediate implementation yesterday focus mainly on the relations between retailers and suppliers. Apart from the compulsory indication of discounts and the market squad (which the Economy Ministry is refusing to fund) they include the introduction of crossed checks issued by wholesalers to farmers, in order to prevent the violation of ceilings on middlemen’s profit margins. Suppliers and retailers will have to notify the ministry of any bilateral agreements. In addition to the names of companies found to be making excessive profits, those with high profit margins will also be made public. Multinationals will have to notify the ministry of their wholesale and retail prices in other countries. Ministry sources said investigations have shown that some companies move products from country to country, with bogus sales between subsidiaries, and sell them more expensively in Greece. Finally, prices will have to be marked on each product so consumers can ensure there is no difference between shelf and checkout prices.