Sudden price hikes just days after Croatia adopted the euro has left many angry that vendors may be exploiting the transition.
On Wednesday, Croatian authorities warned it would not tolerate unfair price hikes. The government is purportedly considering penalties for those deemed to be breaking the law.
Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Davor Filipovic said retailer blacklists were being “intensively discussed” within the government. At the same time, consumer associations tasked with monitoring prices have accused retailers of manipulating prices amid the currency switch.
“We will certainly consider the option of the Ministry of the Economy creating a ‘list of shame’ and making public the names of those who work to the detriment of our citizens and so fuel inflation,” the minister said. He said he would know more later this week, during the next government session.
Over the next few days, Croatian authorities are expected to send a warning message to retailers regarding price hikes. If successful, this should reduce consumer anxieties regarding the price increases and the introduction of the euro.
“We are sending a message to everyone, to the merchants and others in the chain of supply, that they have to put their appetites under control,” Filipovic said.
Croatia formally joined the Eurozone on 1 January 2023. The transition to the European single currency, replacing the previous national currency the kuna, has reportedly taken place with few hiccups. Consumers, however, have complained that new prices listed in euros are considerably higher than when the country was using the kune.
The Croatian consumer protection association says consumers reported considerable price increases, particularly for coffee and baked goods. It is likely that prices were rounded upwards when converted to the euro.
For example, a coffee in a bar that cost eight kunas before the transition should cost 1.09 euros today. Instead, consumers find it has been rounded up to 1.20 or even 1.50 euros in some cases.
A legal adviser to the consumer protection association, Dunja Maletic, said that while consumers have noticed an increase in prices, it is not always possible or easy to prove why the increase has taken place. Each rise must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“Article 8 of the Law on the introduction of the euro clearly indicates that the price must not be increased due to the introduction of the euro. A critical mass of consumers is needed to put a trader on a shame list, but more than that cannot be done,” Maletic told reporters.
According to some media reports, the price of bread rose in real terms by 30 percent last year, even before the transition to the euro.
Image via Pixabay