Ministry pushes inflation plan

The Development Ministry yesterday unveiled its next inflation-fighting steps, which focus on better informing consumers and stamping out profiteering. The ministry had recently prepared a list of 41 measures to battle inflation, which jumped to a 10-year high last month of almost 5 percent. «We do not want the consumer to be a passive market observer. That is why we are strengthening the consumer movement, so that it can play its role,» Development Minister Christos Folias said. Among the ministry’s measures was a request to supermarkets and food companies to put off price hikes on everyday household items or otherwise be put on a black list. «Not all businesses responded in the same manner. Others were more responsive, others less. But it is certain that almost all of them responded,» said the minister. According to lists handed out to journalists, deli meats producer Creta Farm and consumer products company Proctor and Gamble were among the companies that «responded positively» by selectively cutting the prices of some of their products by between 2.5 to 12 percent. On the black list, showing firms with a «zero response» was only one company, identified as Atlanta, which sells Kellogg’s cereals and Twinings products. The government has come under criticism from opposition parties for failing to provide market reforms that will create a more competitive landscape. Economists argue that one of the main factors behind Greece having such a high inflation rate rate is due to its companies abusing their market position to make excessive profits. The Development Ministry says it will target these businesses by setting up a 120-member task force to keep an eye on prices in the market and fine anyone caught profiteering. Penalties imposed will include fines of up to 300,000 euros, the shutdown of the business or calling in the prosecutor, according to Development Ministry officials. The ministry also said it will upgrade a service offering motorists comparative data on fuel prices in their area.