Finance Minister Marko Primorac said on Friday that the state's goal in controlling those who unjustifiably raised prices after the euro adoption is not to collect money and fill the budget, but to sanction unfair business practices, as prescribed by law.
Primorac today refuted claims about retailers and the government being at loggerheads over prices, and that there are more and more fines written due to rounding off by six or four cents.
He said that since the beginning of the process of introducing the euro, the government tried to conduct everything transparently.
Some enterprises took the law too flexibly, while the government tried to prevent unjustified price increases, said Primorac, while participating in a conference on the tax system at the Zagreb Faculty of Economics.
He added that the state inspectorate, tax and customs administration are doing everything they can to sanction and prevent such behaviour.
“It is a corrective instrument and it also a preventative instrument so that a message is sent to all those who wanted to take advantage of this situation. Not only did we not want that to happen but we also wanted to prohibit it,” said the minister.
After all, all this is prescribed by the law on the euro adoption and consumer protection, he added.
And even small rounding off is an unfair business practice
When asked if it is a violation of the law if the price is rounded by four or six cents, he replied that some apparently took advantage of the “temporarily reduced ability of consumers to objectively evaluate prices in euros, compared to prices in kuna.”
“This is something that the Law on Consumer Protection treats as an unfair business practice. If someone had done that before or afterwards, it might not have been considered an unfair business practice, but with the law on the introduction of the euro, we invoked the principle of prohibiting unjustified price increases, and unjustified price increases were identified in several enterprises or a particular group,” says Primorac.
“The goal of the state is not to collect some money and use it for I don’t know what and fill the budget, the goal is to sanction unfair business practices,” the minister added.
Asked what would happen if these sanctions were to be overruled in court, he said that he was not a legal expert, but that there were services that the government “certainly uses and that are involved in making its decisions and preparing any proposals.”
“We talked with the experts, they don’t see anything controversial, and I’m sure that the inspection services, tax and customs administrations are working according to the law,” he said.
Speaking about the tax on extra profit and that INA will pay about €80 million for this levy, Primorac said that he expected that, and that this was in line with the projections.