Minister of Economy and Industry Bogdan Bogdanov initiated a meeting with the leadership of the Commission for Protection of Competition to reach a consensus on the initiative of the Ministry of Economy “Affordable for you”. The letter to the Commission was sent yesterday and a reply is awaited.
“We would like to understand what are the legal arguments of the CPC against the initiative, whose sole purpose is to achieve better prices for Bulgarian consumers, formed on a market principle,” Minister Bogdanov said.
“We expect the Campaign to launch as planned on November 1. We have been assured that a large number of the chains with whom we have had initial meetings will participate. There was also interest from non-food chains,” he said. The aim of the next stage is to include regional as well as smaller chains in the campaign.
Minister Bogdanov’s initiative for a dialogue with the CPC aims to familiarize its members with “Affordable for you” and with the arguments of the Ministry of Economy in favour of consumers in the country.
The Ministry of Economy and Industry believes that the initiative is market-oriented, which contributes to improving the production or distribution of goods. The proposed Declaration of Partnership is not signed between certain economic operators and does not meet the requirements of Article 15 on cartel agreements and the following texts of the Competition Protection Act (CPA) on prohibited agreements. The law contains a number of exceptions to the prohibition of market agreements of economic operators, to which the initiative could be classified (e.g. agreement with insignificant effect on competition under Art. 16 paragraph 1 of the Act).
The subject of the initiative is the lowest, not the undercut, prices, in this sense no possible dumping is expected. The Ministry of Trade and Industry also does not accept the reasoning that Affordable for You may result in prices of participating goods falling at the expense of others outside the initiative. Such a risk exists with all the promotions and price discounts that apply even now and the identification of such possible infringements is subject to case-by-case checks.
Nor should there be any fear of violation of the principle of free enterprise, as participation in the initiative is voluntary and not tied to any sanctions or privileges for participants.
The “Affordable for You” initiative is market-driven and aims to achieve sustained low prices on 50 essential products. The campaign should ensure consumer awareness and accessibility to the basic food products in the small consumer basket by offering them at the lowest possible prices, based on the principles of competitiveness, without negatively affecting other economic actors.
The initiative is in partnership with business and covers the provision of seven product groups from the small consumer basket, meeting quality requirements and containing all the necessary ingredients for a healthy lifestyle.