“We don’t want consumers to panic and be driven to purchases they wouldn’t make because of the feeling that it’s there profiteering or that big increases are coming in the market’.
This was noted by the Minister of Development and Investments, Adonis Georgiadis, in a press conference, underlining that “the feeling that there is a dirty profit is not real. All indicators show that we are below the European average, so it does not make sense to have generalized gross profit, because then we would have, above the average, imported inflationso the measures are working”.
In addition, the minister announced that a change in the legislation on supermarket labels is being prepared in order to make the information that the consumer needs more clearly regarding the relationship between quantity and price for the products he buys.
In more detail, the minister mentioned at the start of the press conference about the “Household Basket» and DIMEA controls that “The reason for the interview is not to defend the work being done in controlling the market and inflation but for the continuous reports about the great accuracy that is coming or about the profiteering. As a result, such reports create the risk that the consumer public will be led into panic buying and stockpiling of products due to possible increases and this would lead to a large loss of income as the trend is to reduce inflation so they will lose money. Industries are now making price reductions while the price of electricity is also falling. In addition, checks are carried out and some companies are punished with fines which are collected. But the feeling that there is a dirty profit is not real. All indicators show that we are below the European average, so it does not mean that we have a generalized gross profit then we would have above average imported inflation, so the measures are working”.
The minister underlined that the household basket keeps prices stable but, in addition, we are headed for a de-escalation of inflation and in two to three weeks the reduction will also be reflected in the basket and noted that a product that enters with a competitive price in the basket, when it leaves , its value returns to its previous level but this is not meant as an increase. Otherwise, when an offer ended and the old price returned to the product, it would be permanently counted as an increase, he noted. Regarding the entry of more branded products into the basket, the minister said that if the prices are not confirmed, they will be significantly reducedi.e. competitive in the basket, will not proceed with any regulation.
In addition, the minister announced that the change in supermarket signs to make the price per kilo clearer, so that the consumer can choose with great ease to his advantage. The minister emphasized that “if we need to legislate, we will legislate” and reminded that next week, a bill regarding consumer protection is being discussed in the Parliament and if there is an intervention, it will be included in this bill.
For his part, the general secretary of Trade and Consumer Protection, Sotiris Anagnostopoulosreferred to specific price increases as presented in newspaper articles which, as he said, create the impression of a generalized picture while according to ELSTAT’s data, it appears that they are individual cases.
Regarding the controls, he pointed out that the medium and large-sized food stores that affect 95% of our expenses are around 5,000, while 35,000 are the total number of food businesses in the country, so the basic control, by DIMEA and the regional units control, focuses mainly on the 5,000.
For the change of packaging by the industries it was pointed out that it is not an illegal practice, but the quality of the product contained must be indicated. It is illegal not to state the actual information about the product (grams, etc.) on the packaging, while regarding the discussion about when there is profiteering when the package is reduced or the price changes, the general secretary explained that this is determined by the wholesale price that the company has purchased and this is a matter subject to the controls carried out by DIMEA.
It was also noted that what has changed in the controls compared to the past is that they no longer take place “field checks”, i.e. close to each store, but information is exchanged electronically “from the office” and thus, for the first time, as he underlined, mass and universal checks are carried out. “That’s why we know the total amount of profiteering, noted the minister, as we know what is happening in the entire market.”
Regarding the collectability of the fines, it was emphasized that they are now collected in their entirety, as the legislation gives irrefutable advantages to the judicial process.
In addition, it was reported that since the beginning of the inflationary crisis they have been 4000 anti-cheat checks with fines of more than 3 million euros and the largest fine, more than 600,000 euros, imposed on a supermarket was collected in full.
The commander of the Interagency Market Control Unit (MIMEA) Charalambos Melissinos noted that not only the 51 cart codes are checked, but at least two competing products are also checked, i.e. more than 150 codes, and in relation to the products in the warehouse and in terms of quantities.
At the press conference, Apostolos Raftopoulos, president of the Consumer Workers’ Union of Greece, was also asked to take a stand, who said that he will not make the information he has about increases in supermarkets public, but will give it to the relevant departments of the ministry.
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