Warsaw (Jan. 14)
The Government is contemplating drastic action to bring about a reduction in the prices of commodities, it is reported here, mainly by getting rid of the middleman, whom the authorities regard as the principal cause of the present high prices.
The Yiddish press complains that this would present a grave menace to the economic future of the large number of Jewish merchants and shopkeepers in Poland, who are already bowed by the heavy load of taxation, and would be completely ruined if the new measure is carried into effect.
One of the chief causes of high prices is the excessive taxation imposed by the Government, the “Najer Hajnt” says, and this has been pointed out repeatedly by the Jewish economic organisations. Every article, before it reaches the consumer, is made to pay tax several times over, especially in the case of articles of vital necessity. The reply of the tax authorities is always that the fault lies entirely with the middlemen, who take too heavy a toll for their services in conveying the goods from the producer to the consumer. This is all wrong, the “Hajnt” says. Everyone knows that the co-operatives, where there are no middlemen, are unable to compete with the private traders, because their prices are lower for goods of better quality. So it is not the middlemen who are responsible for the high prices, but other causes, and above all the high taxation levied by the Government. The economic organisations, the “Hajnt” states, are submitting another memorandum to the Government stressing this point, that the only way in which prices can be reduced is to reduce taxation.
Meanwhile, the “Moment” takes up the story, the closing down of shops and businesses in Poland is becoming a mass movement of catastrophic dimensions. In Warsaw alone there are about ten businesses a day closing down because the owners are ruined and unable to carry on. The same thing, and worse, is happening in all the provincial towns. In fact, the “Moment” says, the position in the provinces is for worse. When these facts were pointed out to the tax authorities, the “Moment” declares, they replied that it was all arranged to make out a case for tax reductions.
A similar movement for reducing prices is being carried on by the Governments of other countries, notably Roumania and Italy. In Roumania, the Government is said to be drafting a bill to make it illegal to charge more than the Government fixed prices for any article. In Italy, the local authorities have been instructed to keep a strict eye on all shopkeepers to prevent them charging more than the official list of prices. Shopkeepers found charging more than the official list of prices will have their shops closed down for a certain number of days.