Austerity bill angers Greece’s neighborhood stores

Associations representing bakers, pharmacies, booksellers and milk producers have expressed angry opposition to a new austerity bill in Greece, a proposed overhaul of trading rules they fear will wipe out independent stores.

The government is due to submit the draft legislation to parliament Friday to scrap dozens of commercial regulations it says are overly protective of independent stores and stifle competition.

The measures, to be voted Sunday, would liberalize retail sectors, and include plans to grant supermarkets permission to set up in-store pharmacies, allow a longer shelf-life for milk and scrap price limits on books set by Greek publishers.

Unions also oppose the plans, and have called for weekend protests and a general strike on April 9, while most pharmacies across the country closed indefinitely in protest this week. [AP]