Greece Moves to Curtail Corruption, Reform Open Air Market Licensing

Αssociated Press

People wearing face masks to curb the spread of coronavirus walk at an open air fruit and vegetable market in Petralona district of Athens, on Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Petros Giannakouris)

ATHENS – A mainstay of Greek life – the open air markets known as laiki that sell fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, honey, nuts, home goods and other products – is set to come under scrutiny over alleged corruption in the awarding of licenses.

Those come with valued key positions on the streets where they are held, the New Democracy government set to look into vested interests that influence or control the process, said Kathimerini.

Ironically, that is seeing resistance from Members of Parliament from the ruling Conservatives as lawmakers reportedly want to have a hand in the system and develop relationships with farmers who can be influential.

A bill is being sent to the Parliament that the government controls, however, and the MP's must vote the way they are directed by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis who can boot them from the party otherwise.

The intention, it was said, is to provide transparency to benefit consumers, the markets long resisting giving receipts to customers so the sellers can pocket cash to avoid taxes.

The bill would require all open-air fruit and vegetable market traders to post on the e-Katanalotis online platform about their starting prices and available quantity of products on the morning the outdoor market is set up.

Αssociated Press

A woman wearing a face mask poses for a selfie photograph after buying flowers on a market in Athens, Friday, March 20, 2020. (AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis)

The legislation also provides for the announcement of predetermined slots with licenses, oerated by the authorities that run each market and there will be an online data base to also record inspections and fines imposed and paid.

Each trader will be required to enter their slot number and the starting price and quantity of their merchandise on a special digital platform on e-Katanalotis before 8 a.m. on market day or face a fine of 500 euros ($601.69) the paper said.

There are also plans to update to more modern designs including benches, electricity and sewage facilities, recycling bins, recreational spaces and allowing freelancers to take part.

Also for artists and social cooperatives to be involved, establish the option of market product delivery services, and offer the option of buying merchandise online, which is still being worked out as of now.