ATHENS – The combination of inflation and the loss of foods from Greece’s flooded agricultural heartland of Thessaly have driven prices so high that the government said supermarkets must show proof of their costs.
That’s to prevent profiteering although Greece doesn’t have an anti-gouging law although there are caps on some essential goods but the prices keep going up – doubling for some commodities – and has brought criticism.
Prime Minister and New Democracy leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis in 2022 backed away from a pledge to consider lowering the 24 percent Value Added Tax (VAT) despite boasting of an economic recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic waned.
With massive new price hikes feared because of the floods that wiped out farmlands for years, and crops destroyed just as they were about to be harvested, the New Democracy government is trying to stave off more complaints.
Big supermarkets will need to share their price lists for basic foods with authorities, the government said, in an effort to help households grappling with rising food costs, said the Reuters news agency.
Inflation in Greece, which touched record levels during the pandemic, had lessened but consumer prices rose 3.5 percent in August anyway, supermarkets reaping the benefits, before the effect of the floods has been felt.
With food inflation still at 10.8 percent in August, many families struggled to buy basic goods.“We will not hide behind statistics,” Development Minister Kostas Skrekas told a press conference.
“No one can be happy when there are families struggling to buy essential goods,” he said without explaining why the 24 percent VAT can’t be reduced even a little to help them, especially with tourism seen bringing in record revenues this year.
Skrekas said big supermarket chains would have to notify authorities of their suppliers’ price lists to help identify which products have become expensive and to fight profiteering of the kind which the dairy industry has been accused of.
For fruits and vegetables, supermarkets will need to publish their retail prices, while they will also have to mark products at a discount of at least 5 percent compared with their cost before September 20.
“Our aim is to have permanent and visible drops in the sales prices and boost competition,” Skrekas said, adding that supermarkets that were found to be offering fake discounts would face hefty fines, the report added.