SANTIAGO, Jan 7 (Reuters) - Chile's Finance Minister Rodrigo Valdes on Thursday said that instances of collusion, such as the most recent price-fixing scheme by three supermarket chains, are a threat to the "efficiency and productivity of the economy."
On Wednesday, Chile's competition regulator accused supermarket chains Cencosud and SMU and the local unit of Wal-Mart Stores Inc of participating in a price-fixing scheme involving fresh chicken.
"This is very bad for confidence and is another blow to the legitimacy of the system, this goes beyond the specific case only and has collateral effects that are deeply negative," said Valdes.
He added that the government would give legislative priority to a bill the would stiffen fines and seek to punish with jail time those who commit collusion. (Reporting by Gram Slattery; Writing by Anthony Esposito)