Greek prices ‘on level of Germany’

Despite five years of recession that have reduced Greece’s gross domestic product by a quarter, prices continue to be high, virtually level to those in Germany whose economy is the most resilient in Europe, according to a new study by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

According to the OECD’s examination of the purchasing power of consumers in its 34 member states, a typical “basket” of supermarket products that costs 100 euros in Greece costs the equivalent of 101 euros in the US and 110 euros in Germany, where the average income is more than double that in Greece.

One reason for Greece’s enduringly high prices, according to recent reports by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund, is that dozens of closed professions remain to be liberalized, and so competitiveness remains low.

Consumer groups in Greece blame a lack of inspections by the state to curb profiteering and the continuing operation of cartels. According to the president of consumer watchdog KEPKA, Nikos Tsemberlidis, a series of investigations have shown that the prices at supermarket chains and branches of multinationals are around 35 percent higher than in several European countries where the average wage is much higher than that in Greece. Another consumer group, EKPOIZO, draws particular attention to household cleaning products, which it describes as “outrageously expensive.”