ECONOMY

Watchdog reviews daily deals

The Competition Commission will focus on two crucial areas in 2011: the daily operation of markets and the government’s obligations towards the troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). The competition watchdog will focus on everyday consumer items and closed professions. This, of course, does not mean that investigations, just short of being completed, will be shelved for any reason but that other areas will have greater weight for the regulator. More particularly, the Competition Commission has located a series of distorted market practices in the retail sector, relating to dairy products, meat and fish goods, rice and pasta products, in addition to the juices and the soft drinks market. Some of the distortions relate to agreements between competitors setting price levels – cartels – exclusive trade agreements, resale prices, and agreements between suppliers and retailers on the placement of products at favourable store positions. On occasions, the commission has spotted the adoption of these sort of practices and imposed fines. However, the number and extent of these sort of practices are believed to have taken on much larger dimensions than initially thought and the commission may intervene in coming months. The second major area the commission will tackle will be closed professions. According to the memorandum agreement Greece signed with its lenders in exchange for the 110-billion-euro financing agreement, the commission will review a draft bill the government is preparing on deregulating these professions and then decide on whether any changes to the bill are needed. The commission has already been involved in two cases of closed professions, real estate agents and civil engineers.