OPINION

Gov’t to blame for rising prices

Rising prices, Development Minister Christos Folias, cannot be combated by 41 or 141 regulations that end up accomplishing the exact opposite of the desired result because the red tape they create increases the cost of product distribution on the one hand and, on the other, increases the opportunities for corruption and exchanges between monitoring authorities and businesses. Greece has experienced entire decades of market regulation and the only result it saw was inflation above 20 percent, a strong black market and product shortages. Mr Folias, consumers, traders and manufacturers are laughing at the measures you are implementing. They view them as irrelevant and ineffective and I wonder that you – a man who comes from the world of private initiative – have forgotten the biggest lesson that history has taught us: that only deregulation and robust competition can bring down prices and improve product quality. Of course, the onus is not just on you, but also on Giorgos Alogoskoufis and many other ministers who are responsible for the control exercised by closed-shop professions and the vested interests that keep society hostage. Have you estimated the contribution to rising prices made by the months-long refusal by dockworkers in Piraeus and Thessaloniki to work overtime, which has resulted in a huge backlog of merchandise? What about the tanker truck owners and their occasional strikes? How much has this increased the cost of distribution? And gas station owners, who jack up petrol and heating oil prices? Have you destroyed such oligopolies? No. In contrast, you made them stronger and now they mock you by announcing laughable price cuts. It is this political system, which protects such guilds, that is setting prices on fire.