Already pummeled by big pay cuts, tax hikes and slashed pensions that have cut their disposable income as much as 46 percent, Greeks are being hammered by some of the highest prices for products in the European Union, a study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has shown.
Into a sixth year of a deep recession with no end in sights, Greeks aren’t getting relief at stores or the market where, until recently, retailers had been keeping prices high and as some industries, such as dairy companies, have been accused of operating cartels.
OECD examined consumer’s purchasing power in its 34 member states and found out that products that cost €100 in a Greek supermarket, cost the equivalent €101 in the US and €110 in Germany. The difference is that in Germany the average income is more than double than in Greece and the minimum wage in the UK is double that in Greece, where it has been slashed.
Recent reports by the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund explain that in Greece dozens of closed professions remain to be liberalized, competitiveness remains low and as a result there are high prices as the coalition government of Prime Minister and New Democracy Conservative leader Antonis Samaras continues to drag its feet on some reforms.
Consumer groups in Greece say there is lack of inspections by the state to curb profiteering and the cartels’ continuing operation with companies colluding to keep prices high and Greeks continuing to pay through the nose without complaining or boycottting goods.
A series of investigations have shown that the prices at supermarket chains and branches of multinationals are around 35 percent higher in Greece than in several European countries where the average wage is much higher than that in Greece, according to Nikos Tsemberlidis, the President of consumer watchdog KEPKA. Household cleaning products are characterized as “outrageously expensive” by the consumer group EKPOIZO.