Government Can Cope With Rising Food Prices, Says Fiala

Some consumer products have seen a mark-up of around 200%. Photo: Freepik.

Prague, April 11 (CTK) – Czech PM Petr Fiala took to social media earlier today to insist that, following the experience of last year’s rise in the prices of fuel and energy, his government will be able to cope with the rising food prices. He said this should be done through a combination of wise economic policy, using the instruments of the state, and simultaneously letting the free market function.

The five-party coalition cabinet has been criticised by the opposition over the rising food prices. The opposition is trying to put the issue on the lower house’s agenda.

“We have coped with fuel prices, we have coped with energy prices, and in the same way we will cope with the food prices. Yes, I can hear the critics again telling us: intervene, start fixing prices, lift the VAT on food, and so on. If we did, the only result would be a shortage of food. By no means would that help us,” Fiala (ODS) wrote.

Fiala said the Czech agriculture and food sectors differ from those in neighbouring countries, as the Czech market is controlled by big players with market shares bordering on monopolies.

“A certain pressure and control applied by the government has recently caused the market environment to start revitalising, with individual players starting to compete with each other and blaming the rising food prices on each other. I think that this is just the right moment for the food prices to start declining,” Fiala said.

On Sunday, CMKOS umbrella union chairman Josef Stredula told CNN Prima News that the government should tackle the rising prices of food by applying the law on prices, which contains instruments to fix prices. According to Stredula, 11% of prices in the Czech Republic are already defined by this law, and it has not caused any market failure.

In late January, Agriculture Minister Zdenek Nekula (KDU-CSL) sent a letter to retail chains requesting an explanation for the skyrocketing rise in the prices of sugar and eggs. In February, he filed a complaint with the anti-trust office (UOHS) about the sharp increase in the retail price of sugar, and in March he addressed the UOHS about the price of eggs.

In early April, Nekula said that the prices of eggs and sugar had started falling in response to pressure exerted by state bodies, media and consumers.

He said he wanted to exert similar pressure for a decrease in the prices of apples and potatoes, which have seen a retail markup of up to 200%.

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