Gov’t wants lid on prices

The government has called on businesses to cut their prices in bid to tame rising inflation, as the erosion of consumer spending power ranks among the top issues on the country’s political agenda. Greece’s inflation is seen as reaching a six-year high of more than 4.6 percent in May after rising energy costs pushed the price of numerous supermarket goods last month from 10 to 20 percent higher. Development Minister Christos Folias met yesterday with the representatives of 36 businesses that produce or sell the majority of consumer goods purchased by households. He called on them to cut prices or be placed on the «black list» the ministry intends to publish with the names of businesses that unjustifiably increase prices. «This is not an agreement,» said the minister. «It is a proposal for the market to regulate itself in order to meet exceptionally difficult circumstances.» Sources said the majority of businesses present at the meeting rejected his call, citing the rising cost of raw materials. Among the few companies that have agreed to keep a lid on their prices is Blue Star Ferries which will not raise ticket prices this summer. The government has been scrambling to find ways to fight inflation by introducing a number of measures, such as providing customers with more price information on products. Opposition parties have accused the government of allowing market conditions that favor the existence of limited competitors in a move that harms competitive pricing policies. «The government is obligated to abandon the half measures and move on decisively with applying the law,» said PASOK’s Michalis Chrysochoidis. Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis is expected to address the issue of inflation in Parliament today where he is likely to refer to the rising cost of international oil prices as being largely responsible for Greece’s inflation woes.