A government appointed review group has set alarm bells ringing among independents in the Irish Republic by recommending the ban on below cost selling be lifted. The Groceries Order, aimed at protecting both independents and suppliers from the market muscle of the multiples, was introduced 13 years ago. It was the result of a price war that caused extensive casualties. But the review group argues the situation has now changed because of Irish and EU laws on fair competition. It claims the order does not prevent predatory pricing. It says: "If large multiples wish to cut prices significantly on selected lines they can do so without having to lower the price below the net invoice price." The group suggests new legislation should compel multiples to abide by their suppliers' terms and conditions, especially in relation to credit. They should also be required to sell their products to anyone, including small retailers. This, it claims, would offset any adverse effects the removal of the below cost selling ban might have on independents. Michael Campbell, director general of RGDATA, the organisation representing independents, claimed the Groceries Order had been a key factor in the growth of the Republic's independents in recent years. "The order has prevented the worst abuses of market power by the multiples and has given independents the confidence to invest in their businesses," he said. The review group has now invited submissions on its proposals before making a final report to Enterprise, Trade and Employment Minister, Mary Harney, who will decide whether the below cost selling ban stays. {{NEWS }}