ECONOMY

Crackdown on illegal trading

Illegal street trading is being targeted by the Development Ministry and other state agencies as the phenomenon has grown to such an extent that it is absorbing an estimated 1 in 3 euros spent by consumers. In the last eight months in Attica, after some 4,000 checks, authorities have seized 4,412 products of various categories. Last month alone, there were 899 checks in Attica that resulted in 107 seizures. The crackdown on illegal trading is being imposed across the country, with a crucial role being played by local authorities that are responsible for setting up and coordinating the monitoring teams. Stamping out illegal trading has been a longstanding demand from tradespeople as they see their turnover shrink considerably on account of it; estimates put the annual turnover of illegal trade at around 2 billion euros. This figure does not include turnover from the illegal trade of fruit and vegetables, which may well amount to 3 billion euros per year, according to market estimates. In total, authorities believe the annual loss in terms of VAT revenue alone comes to some 1 billion euros. An estimated 40,000 people are engaged in illegal trading in Greece, where the main product categories are clothing, leather goods, compact discs and sunglasses. In fact it is believed that three-quarters of total annual turnover from sunglasses is generated by items that are sold illegally. The main responsibility for combating illegal street trading lies with the monitoring services of local authorities (municipal police) with the support of officers from local police stations. A recent ministry circular made it clear that any items confiscated from illegal trading should be destroyed (as in the case of CDs, illegal tobacco products etc) or donated to organizations such as charities (in the case of clothing, leather goods etc). The Development Ministry and the City of Athens are asking consumers to help by registering their complaints either on the Consumer Hotline (tel 1520) or the municipality’s special number (tel 195).