Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Greece Stifled by Overregulation, Says OECD

by Alkman Granitsas

Wall Street Journal

November 27, 2013

Overregulation in Greece costs businesses and consumers billions of euros each year, a new report said Wednesday, urging the government to sweep away hundreds of rules that hobble the country's private sector and undermine competition.

The report, published by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, identifies restrictions deemed unwarranted on everything from the shelf life of milk products and the sale of vitamins to cruise industry cabotage laws.

The scope of restrictions underscores how Greece's structural reforms still remain very much a work-in-progress after years of haphazard efforts to pry open the economy. Although Athens has made strides in balancing its public finances under its combined euro-zone and International Monetary Fund bailouts, many analysts say Greece is still struggling to overhaul its hidebound bureaucracy.

The report focuses on four key sectors—food processing, the retail trade, building materials and tourism—identifying close to 1,000 regulations in those industries alone. "Through the scrutiny of legislation in key sectors of the Greek economy, the OECD Competition Assessment Project identified 555 problematic regulations and 329 provisions where changes could be made to foster competition," the report says.


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