Energy and Trade Minister Giorgos Papanastasiou sought to fend off renewed attacks against the e-kalathi (e-basket) – a product price comparison tool – as he was criticised for not offering proper solutions to the cost of living.
The Pancyprian Retail Trade Association (Pasyle) said on Thursday that the minister was focusing on the e-basket instead of providing targeted solutions, mainly as concerns the high cost of energy.
Pasyle branded the minister as being “obsessed” with the policy.
“It is with regret that we have witnessed the minister’s hostile attitude towards a sector of the economy which is characterised by the most intense competition – which is in favour of the consumers,” Pasyle said.
But Papanastasiou reiterated that consumers can immediately benefit from a price comparison tool for products.
“Transparency in the price of products and the right to compare and choose through the e-kalathi will not operate as a tool to tackle inflation, but at least consumers will be able to quickly and easily – according to their financial capabilities – find products,” the minister explained.
But Pasyle sought to cast doubts on the minister’s true intentions by pointing to the competition protection commission (EPA) changing its stance on the matter after meeting Papanastasiou.
For his part, the minister strongly rejected any hints of foul play in an independent institution – the EPA.
He further sought to address Pasyle’s concerns by reiterating that the government is preparing a ‘photovoltaics for all’ plan along with other measures which will provide immediate benefits.
The cabinet approved the proposal for the creation of a digital platform, known as the e-kalathi (e-basket), that would list prices of 300 consumer goods in different supermarkets in April. The idea was to inform people during this period of high prices what was being charged for similar products in different shops.
Earlier in the week, the House commerce committee discussed the relevant bill but surprising divisions soon arose.
Both small and large supermarkets expressed their opposition, as did Disy and Akel.
Head of the Consumer Protection Service Constantinos Karagiorgis told the committee that a survey on prices showed a consumer could save up to €50 on 44 products.