Bulgaria’s caretaker government launches food price comparison platform
The Bulgarian caretaker government put online on March 24 a platform for monitoring the prices of a number of basic food products, claiming that the step would help contain inflation.
It was not immediately clear why the platform would help, beyond caretaker Economy Minister Nikola Stoyanov saying that it would be “a very useful tool to monitor market distortions because anyone, when that the price of the raw material or the wholesale price is going down but the retail price is going up, can very easily see that something is wrong”.
The platform, costing taxpayers 30 000 leva, lists 30 basic food items, nine types of fruit and vegetables and four types of raw materials such as unprocessed fresh milk.
It shows average wholesale prices of these goods in various parts of Bulgaria, as well as the average retail prices in supermarkets and shops across the country.
The platform also shows price movement of each commodity over the previous 30 days. The caretaker government claims that this too is a useful tool to monitor whether there is market distortion.
It offers comparisons of prices in Bulgaria with prices of 11 basic food products in seven other European countries. Bulgaria’s commercial attachés in Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Bucharest, Prague, Athens and Zagreb have been told to submit prices in those cities for uploading on the platform.
Presenting the platform at a briefing, Stoyanov chose to compare the prices of 250g of cow butter, which has a wholesale price of 5.19 leva and an average retail price in Bulgaria of 7.36 leva. In France, the same amount of butter costs the equivalent of 5.14 leva, in Germany 4..88 leva and 4.85 leva in Austria.
Retail chains that have a turnover of more than 30 million leva will be able to publish prices of goods, on a voluntary basis, as of next week. Promotional prices will not be allowed on the platform.
The prices currently on the platform, foodprice.bg, have been submitted not by retailers, but in the case of the prices abroad, by the Customs Agency, and in Bulgaria, by the National Revenue Agency.
Stoyanov said that he was confident that a large number of retailers would participate.
When a reporter asked what the sanctions would be for retailers submitting false information, the answer was rather vague, beyond saying that after three violations, a retailer would be barred from posting prices on the platform. “But they’ll still continuing selling,” the reporter responded.
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