Positive response to price restraint

Falling international oil prices are paving the way for businesses to show price restraint in the autumn in a move expected to help rein in Greece’s inflation, the president of the country’s chambers of commerce said yesterday. In response to rising international oil prices pushing up inflation to 10-year highs over the last few months, the Development Ministry has been calling on businesses to implement price freezes in order to show «sensitivity to the community.» «As the union of chambers, we accept it (the request for a price freeze) in the best possible way and believe that our members will meet this request after the drop in prices internationally,» said Giorgos Kassimatis, the president of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce (UHC), after meeting with Development Minister Christos Folias. The head of UHC, which represents Greece’s 259 chambers of commerce, added that, based on recent research, there are limited upward price trends in the pipeline. «Perhaps in a few categories there are [price pressures] but they are only small ones,» he added. Data from the National Statistics Service show that consumer prices, particularly food prices, have seen enormous increases recently. Flour prices last month jumped almost 20 percent, while pasta and poultry shot up 28 and 12 percent respectively. The UHC is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis next week when they will speak about a possible reduction in value-added tax (VAT), among other issues. Meanwhile, late on Wednesday, petrol station owners in Crete called off protest action in opposition to the government’s two-week price ceiling on fuel prices. Fuel retailers argue the measure should be implemented across the entire supply chain, including refineries, and that the maximum selling price leaves them with no profit margin. Refineries agreed to cut their prices by 5 cents per liter, therefore leaving more room for retailers to meet the price ceiling restriction.