The Consumers Association of Ireland (CAI), which we found out in Mondays Pricewatch is in terminal decline now seems to not even be able to co-ordinate their pithy soundbites for the media. You’d think that €60,000+ in government grants from the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment could at least have funded a couple of mobile phones between them.
I mentioned earlier today that the Tánaiste, Mary Coughlan, had mentioned the possibility of bringing back price controls on Sunday.
First up from the CAI spokespeople was Dermott Jewell, the Chief Executive, quoted in this article from yesterdays Irish Independent, who said:
Price control was the last thing consumers needed, especially in a recession. “Once that happens competition goes out the window,” he said. “When that happens all prices find the one level at whatever is the highest possible price.”
Then, later on in the evening, on The Last Word with Matt Cooper on TodayFM, Michael Kilcoyne, the vice-chairman of the Association had the absolute complete opposite to say:
Well, I think that there is merit in the suggestion and it certainly should be examined. It’s an issue that I have raised on a number of occasions in the past. There is no justification for example for why some product should be up to 30% more expensive in the Republic of Ireland than it is in Northern Ireland. It quite simply is greed and a rip off.
Well, price controls would work, for example, where there’s a maximum price imposed on something. For example, it seems to me to make great sense that when you transfer the rate in sterling to euro and maybe allow a margin for fluctuations that it shouldn’t be any more than a difference of 2 or 3% rather than in some cases up to 30 or 40%.
What has happened is there are huge prices, that we all see evidence of great rip offs. There should be in some cases be a maximum price. There is no doubt about that. While the Tánaiste in the past has refused to consider that, I think that it’s one of the things that has to be considered.
So, one for and one against amongst the jokers at the Consumers Association of Ireland. Just as well the government isn’t trying to save money anywhere at the moment!!!