Podemos has proposed to its government partner to cap the price of basic foods taking as a reference the value that these products reached on February 20, at the beginning of the war in Ukraine. In addition, the space led by Ione Belarra has anticipated a negative response from the Executive’s socialist wing and has put an alternative plan on the table: a new tax for large food distributors. However, the initiative of the purple formation starts with serious gaps since the CNMC appeared only a few months ago that they agreed on a maximum price for food that was contrary to competition regulations and the Treaty on the operation of the European Union.
The spokesman for the formation in Congress, Pablo Echenique, explained this Monday that his proposal consists of “doing the same thing that was done with the masks in the pandemic”, setting a maximum price for the basic food basket. However, the rise in prices has a very different origin. In mid-2020, there was an exceptional context in which manufacturers and sellers of masks raised the sale price of these products to widen the profit margin in the face of excessive demand. Instead, the current rise in food is explained by how rising energy costs have polluted every phase of the production process, from farms to distribution.
The CNMC found that the measure was illegal
Echenique has admitted that Podemos is aware that “objectively some costs have risen”, so setting a maximum limit on food could put small and medium-sized businesses in “financial stress”, for which they have proposed a package of direct measures . However, given that the business margins of the large distributors have not grown in recent months, they cannot assume these increases either so that they are not transferred to the client. 15.7% in 2022 after registering a significant increase in products such as milk, eggs, oil, vegetables and meat.
The purple formation thus takes up the proposal launched by the Minister of Labor and Social Economy, Yolanda Díaz, in the month of September that ended on a dead letter. The Sumar leader met with representatives of the sector and demanded that the large distributors prepare an affordable shopping basket, leaving the price cap aside, however, only one supermarket chain joined the offer. Then the competition regulatory body said that “fixing maximum prices between operators, even under the auspices or impulse of public authorities, is a prohibited price agreement”, which makes it legally unfeasible.
Yolanda Diaz also alluded to the benefits of the large distributors last week after realizing that she learned the final inflation data for December. She, however, has insisted that she does not speak of “intervening”, but of reaching an agreement between the distributors and the consumer and user associations, something that the current law does not allow either. The head of Labor has assured that the Podemos proposal is “welcome” and has positively assessed the movement of the purple ones, despite the fact that in recent days they have starred in crossed statements due to the lack of specificity about the list in which it occurs the space to the left of the PSOE in the next municipal and national elections.
Without the support of the PSOE or the businessmen
The PSOE has not ruled on the measure, although sources from the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food told La Información that the measures taken by the Government as a whole to alleviate pressure on the shopping basket have barely been in force for two weeks, Therefore, it is considered prudent to wait for the inflation data for January to assess new measures. In the latest package of anti-crisis measures, the Executive concluded the reduction of VAT on a list of basic products as of January 1. However, its impact on the pocket of citizens has been reduced.
In fact, this decision received strong criticism both from the ranks of the opposition, since Alberto Núñez Feijóo questioned that products such as meat or fish had not been included, which were basic in any home and have a high price from the Council of Ministers. like Yolanda Díaz who questioned the effectiveness of the tax reduction to lower prices and advocated taking more ambitious measures. Like the current proposal, which is expected to end on deaf ears.
On the other hand, businessmen do not look favorably on the proposal of Ione Belarra’s team. The president of the CEOE, Antonio Garamendi, has described the announcement as a “populist proposal” and has announced that this will be the norm in the next electoral period despite the fact that it is “the worst recipe that can be heard in a country “. “The Government or the people who are in the Government have to be more responsible,” said the representative of the businessmen in statements to the media after hearing the news.