Romania’s Competition Council has recently published its annual activity report. As compared to 2015, the report for 2016 signals an increase in economic growth, also transparent in the population’s welfare. On the other hand, there are pending problems, related to excessive bureaucracy, regulation barriers or the quality of the infrastructure and the public services. Competition Council President Bogdan Chiritoiu told us more in an interview to Radio Romania.
“The Romanian economy has a positive evolution. Now, in that positive trait we can see things that are faring well, just as they have in recent years, such as the telecommunications sector. Romania boasts one of the most competitive markets, which can be seen in the quality of services and the low prices Romanian consumers pay as compared to other consumers in the European Union countries. Then, in the banking sector, we can see a slight improvement, we can also see that trend even in the insurance sector, save for the compulsory civil liability insurance against damage from third parties for car owners. At the same time, other sectors are also looking good, but there we can see competition shrinking, which is our main concern. At this point, we should mention the food sector, where Romania fares very well, as compared to other states. In Romania, prices continue to be substantially lower than in other EU countries, but food sector problems related to the food trade lie with takeover operations: a company buys another company out, which means actors on the market simply disappear, competition is shrinking, and there is also the risk of prices rising. We also need to be even more cautious when we authorize economic focus operations in the food trade area, while there are also sectors where we can see no progress has been made, in the cement sector, which is an area with very few actors active on the market”.
But what is the main conclusion drawn from the Competition Council report?
“We have a positive economic evolutionary trend, overall, and that can also be seen in the fact that the VAT reduction, in place since the beginning of the year, was mainly traceable in the prices consumers pay, which is a sign that, in most of the cases, markets are functioning very well.”
Many investigations conducted by the Competition Council this year are close to completion. Bogdan Chiritoiu:
“2016 is a year with a big number of finalised investigations, over 20 of them, from very different sectors. The most interesting of all, in terms of economic impact, is the one regarding the behaviour of the business operators in the Black Sea port of Constanta, providing shipping and towage services. It is there that we applied the biggest fine this year, but more important than that, in my opinion, is our effort to make the Port of Constanta more efficient. In order for that to happen, we needed to make some corrections, in an attempt to improve the port’s activity by making it more open, cheaper and more attractive for international operators. This is the European Union’s most important Black Sea port, and it is in Romania’s best interest to have as many foreign operators as possible that use the Port of Constanta for the transport of goods”.
The Competition Council has recently launched the online platform The Price Monitor, which shows the sale prices of major retailers for products that are part of the daily consumption basket of the population. In the first stage the platform will be tested for one year in the capital Bucharest and Ilfov County, and then extended to stores in the entire country. The Price Monitor’s pilot version includes 128 products divided into 64 categories. “This instrument is aimed at helping consumers find out the fair price of the basic consumption basket. We see this platform as a useful tool for citizens, something that we hope will boost competition among the participant retailers,” Chiritoiu has explained. The online platform managed by the Competition Council has been created with support from the National Consumer Protection Agency and of the Nielsen Market Research Company. The data regarding the products and prices are being sent online by the retailers that take part in the project, such as Mega Image, Lidl, Kaufland, Selgros, Carrefour, Penny and Profi. Consumers are invited to access www.monitorulpreturilor.info, to find out the most competitive prices.
(Translated by E. Nasta and E. Enache)