Bulgaria’s caretaker government to introduce daily food price monitoring

Bulgaria’s caretaker Prime Minister Gulub Donev said on February 7 that the administration would introduce a “daily monitoring and control mechanism” of food prices, along the entire supply chain from producers to shop counters.

Donev was speaking after a meeting that had been billed as intended to discuss food prices and “possible solutions to reduce inflation”.

The meeting involved various caretaker government ministers and the heads of the consumer protection, commodity exchanges and markets, customs, revenue and food safety bodies.

It was held against a background of sharp increases in consumer prices of food in shops in Bulgaria in recent years, and frequent sharing of posts on social networks showing prices of food products to be relatively higher in Bulgaria than in other, much wealthier, EU countries.

There were differences of 20 to 30 per cent and more in prices from the manufacturers to the retailer to the shop counter, Donev said.

The administration would “expose the unfair trade practices,” he said.

“In order to control the rise in prices, what the government will do is to compare the prices in Bulgarian retail chains with those in the same retail chains abroad, in order to have transparency for consumers, while at the same time there will be monitoring of at what prices food enters the country, whether duties and taxes are paid, how the final price that the consumer actually pays is formed,” he said.

Donev said that the public would be “brought in” to this monitoring process, though he provided no detail about what that was intended to mean.

Not only large commercial chains would be monitored, but also small shops, he said.

The administration would not interfere in free trade, but would come up with a definition of what is meant by “unfair practice”. No definition existed at the moment, according to Donev.

“That is why it is difficult to establish abuses, and once there is a definition of unfair practices, sanctions will be imposed more easily,” Donev said.

All the institutions represented at the February 7 meeting would be involved in clarifying why the prices of food products in Bulgaria are higher than those in EU member states, he said.

(Photo: Bartosz Wacawski/freeimages.com)

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