Mar­ket lib­er­al­iza­tion hits snags

Im­ple­men­ta­tion of OECD pro­pos­als on non-pre­scrip­tion drugs, fresh milk and bread runs into op­po­si­tion

Kathimerini English - - Front Page - BY PENNY BOULOUTZA & DIM­I­TRA MANIFAVA

The gov­ern­ment’s hes­i­ta­tion in clash­ing with phar­ma­cists, dairy producers, bak­ers and oth­ers has de­layed the in­tro­duc­tion of key mar­ket re­forms pro­posed by the Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion and De­vel­op­ment (OECD), lead­ing Prime Min­is­ter An­to­nis Sa­ma­ras to call on his min­is­ters to speed up their re­form ef­forts.

De­vel­op­ment Min­is­ter Costis Hatzi­dakis and Health Min­is­ter Ado­nis Ge­or­giadis dis­agreed openly dur­ing Satur­day’s in­ner cab­i­net meet­ing about the sale of non-pre­scrip­tion drugs by su­per­mar­kets, with the lat­ter stress­ing that this may put pub­lic health at risk. For his part, Hatzi­dakis in­sists that those drugs should be sold by su­per­mar­kets, too, say­ing that the re­duc­tion of re­tail prices re­quires the lib­er­al­iza­tion of this as well as other sec­tors. De­vel­op­ment Min­istry sources say that the re­forms pro­posed by the OECD have se­cured the green light from Sa­ma­ras and Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Evan­ge­los Venize­los.

The de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter is be­ing pres­sured by other col­leagues of his on the is­sues of the pe­riod that milk can be con­sid­ered “fresh” – the ex­ten­sion of which the Agri­cul­tural De­vel­op­ment Min­istry is op­posed to – and on plans for the sale of bread by weight rather than by the loaf, with gov­ern­ment MPs ap­pear­ing re­luc­tant to bear the brunt of another clash with pro­fes­sional groups.

Be­sides the De­vel­op­ment Min­istry’s main ar­gu­ment that con­sumers will ben­e­fit from the lib­er­al­iza­tion of the mar­kets, a source close to Hatzi­dakis states that “this is­sue had bet­ter close in time as the gov­ern­ment has many open fronts in its ne­go­ti­a­tions with the troika,” re­fer­ring to the rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the coun­try’s cred­i­tors.

On the is­sue of non-pre­scrip­tion drugs, the Health Min­istry – ea­ger not to open another front with the phar­ma­cists’ unions af­ter that with doc­tors – has pro­posed a com­pro­mise, say­ing that it would ac­cept their sale at su­per­mar­kets pro­vided this is done in a spe­cific cor­ner of the store with the pres­ence of phar­ma­cists, ef­fec­tively a shop in a shop.

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