A session of the Parliamentary Trade regarding e-kalathi ended without result, with MPs not convinced that the implementation of the government bill will not lead to unfair competition especially to the detriment of small supermarkets.>
In today's session, the Director of the Consumer Protection Service, Konstantinos Karagiorgis, clarified that the consultation process has been completed and that based on the Service's research, the consumer will benefit from its implementation, while a representative of the Competition Protection Commission (EPA) said that they have been received taking into account the positions of the Commission.
The President of the Commission, Kyriakos Hatzigiannis expressed strong criticisms against the government which he accused of being “the stupidest in Europe” since, as he said, it implements policies that increase inflation instead of reducing it.
As he said, “the government's big sparkler with which it tries to light up the consciences of Cypriot consumers is collapsing from the point of view that it lacks any consultation and for purely communicative purposes it attempts without discussing the essence to pass it and present it as a pill to deal with inflation in this place”.
He also claimed that the government “interfered” with the EPA, an independent authority, in order to change its stance and argued that by not extending the measures on fuel and electricity it led to an increase in the cost of production.
AKEL, with statements by the party's MP, Kosta Kosta, stated that, although it has reservations about whether conditions of unfair competition will be created, it is in favor of the article-by-article discussion of the bill “both where we agree and where we disagree. There is also the path of amendment. But we must move forward”, he said.
Chrysis Pantelidis, part of DIKO, speaking both before the Committee and in his statements after the session, accused the President of the Committee of obstruction.
“We regret to note that the President of the Parliamentary Committee on Trade and the other DISY MPs in the Committee are obstructing, in our opinion, the aim is to block this government initiative, which was notably started by the Anastasiades government,” he said, adding that e-kalathi is a tool of transparency and consumer information that will contribute to the development of healthy competition as it will facilitate the comparison of product prices.
Stavros Papadouris speaking during the session said that if the consultation is over “we recommend that we go ahead and proceed as prescribed by the regulations.”
Speaking before the Committee, Konstantinos Karagiorgis said that the consultation process for the bill has been completed as stipulated by the relevant law, while the views of all those involved have been taken. “We disagree that there was no consultation”, he added.
Answering questions from MPs whether this measure will lead to benefits for consumers, Mr. Karagiorgis emphasized that an investigation that has been carried out indicates that a consumer may be spared up to 50 euros for 44 products.
He noted that after the approval of the bill, the Service will enter into a new consultation with all those involved for the final configuration of the platform.
“The bill provides for a specific thing. It's a digital tool, and we're discussing here all the problems of the economy for a simple tool,” he added.
An EPA spokesman said that as part of the consultation, the bill had been forwarded and we sent our comments and positions. .
“With the new committee, a meeting was held with the Minister of Energy where the matter was discussed and the Committee received assurances that the appropriate actions will be taken for all the suggestions made and that the platform will receive some regular monitoring and in the event that information is requested from the EPA will be sent to her”, he added, noting that the Committee's comments and recommendations have been accepted.
AKEL MPs Kostas Kostas and Andreas Pasiourtidis requested that the positions of the EPA be read in writing to the committee.
The MP and former president of DISY Averof Neofytou spoke about communication measures.
“What benefit does the consumer have? Communication, we have reduced the cost of coffee for some cafes to have parties,” he added, calling e-kalathi a “firecracker” since, he said, it adds red tape.
A representative of the Association of Consumer Products Suppliers, stated that they support any action that will help the consumer, but expressed concerns about the process and the way of implementing this platform. He noted that it bothers them that various information is being made public, that more or less “we, and possibly the retailers, are the thieves of the company and we change the price whenever we want and as we want”.
The representative of the Free Association of Cyprus Trade, stated that he supports the institution of e-kalathi, expressing concern whether the consumer will benefit more or whether businesses will be hurt more.
The representative of the Pancypriot Retail Trade Association, Marios Antoniou, said that the Association has no problem with price transparency, since supermarkets have posted prices for 15,000 on the internet. Saying that the proposed platform will guide consumers in which supermarket to choose, he questioned who ensures that these products will have the same barcodes. as a boomerang for small businesses. “So with the platform, big businesses will get a free advertisement,” he explained.
A representative of the Pancypriot Hypermarkets Association expressed concern about the hit small businesses would take, saying that of the association's 250 members, the 220 are small and small medium. He attributed to the Minister of Commerce “hostile behavior” towards the sector and added that while the real problems are electricity, fuel and interest rates, the state chooses to make a platform, which is the easiest, as he said.