Consumers are unlikely to benefit from a new ‘basket of goods’ law in time for Christmas as the island’s consumer protection service must proceed with a new round of consultations with all stakeholders in an effort to define the methodology involved for its implementation.
Speaking to the Cyprus News Agency (CNA) on Friday, the director of the consumer protection service, Constantinos Karagiorgis did not give a timetable for the implementation of the measure, stressing that further time is needed for processing, in order for it to be effectively implemented.
“The conclusion that comes out,” he added, “is that in the near future we will have to enter a new round of consultation, of a more detailed form, in order to arrive at the methodology for the implementation of the measure, but also to discuss the mechanisms of its supervision, so that when it is submitted to Parliament we will have a comprehensive, recorded bill, which will refer to all the details that will govern a possible decree that will be issued in the future and which will be defined by law.”
It is doubtful whether the bill will be passed in time for Christmas, since it is supposed to be presented in parliament on December 8.
The ‘household basket,’ which was introduced similarly in Greece, will include a weekly guide on the cheapest essential goods available at supermarket, including milk, rice, pasta, bread, the head of the Cyprus Retail Association Marios Antoniou told the Cyprus Mail.
Regarding on how the law would work, Antoniou said that every Wednesday the cheapest brand of products from each item category would be announced to consumers, who would be able to include the items on their shopping list.
As an example, one week one brand of milk would be given a standardised price across all supermarkets, and the next week another brand would given the standardised price.
There had also been a proposal to adjust prices based on increased energy prices supermarkets pay, but it was rejected.
“There was a creative productive discussion and mainly from the side of the retail trade associations, the wholesale supermarkets all the problems they face due to the increased cost of raw materials and fuels, which affect the operation of both supermarkets and those involved in the supply chain”, said Karagiorgis, adding that “we proposed a measure, which we thought at this stage, in light of the current situation, would be beneficial and make it easier for consumers, alongside other measures that we are working on.”
Karagiorgis also noted that everyone expressed their willingness to contribute to the implementation of the measure, when and if it is decided, but defining a correct methodology so that no problems arise, adding that the consumer associations were just as supportive as the unions that supported this policy.
He stated that the consumer protection service never referred to a timetable for the implementation of the measure, but explained that the methodology should be finalised, to cover which products will be included in the basket, how they will be included, how the supervision will be carried out, how the prices will be posted and how the labelling will be carried out in the supermarkets.
“It’s not enough to put them on a piece of paper, you have to implement them, so you need a proper methodology that everyone is aligned and those involved in the process can effectively help consumers in a meaningful way,” he said.
Once the discussions of the proposal are done, it will go back to cabinet for a final approval before heading to parliament.