ECONOMY

More support measures being planned to offset price hikes

more-support-measures-being-planned-to-offset-price-hikes

The sharp rise in prices and the explosive increase in energy costs are forcing the government’s financial staff to seek additional measures to alleviate the growing pressure on households and businesses alike.

More specifically, the government will expand its social assistance package for December and expects a good deal with Russia’s Gazprom which reduce gas bills in the first quarter of the new year.

At the same time, Kathimerini understands that state-controlled gas utility DEPA is in consultation with the Energy Ministry to double the discount on the price of natural gas to 30% in December, from 15% in November.

Tellingly, last month the price of natural gas was almost three times (+180.9%) the amount it was in November last year. 

Moreover, with concern mounting about the effects of high prices on households during the winter, the government submitted an amendment to Parliament on Friday that suspends the charges of the gas distribution network for November and December. The bills for these months are higher due to the strong demand for heating fuel. These charges, which make up more than 10% of the total bill, will be repaid in four equal, interest-free, monthly installments from April to August.

The Finance Ministry is also considering the possibility of delaying the start of the repayment of the “Deposit to be Returned” by 700,000 companies, but also to extend the fixed expenses program for 31,000 companies, which allows them to offset taxes and insurance contributions well into 2022 with the special “coupon” they have received. 

All this comes amid a spike in inflation which soared in November to 4.8%, the second highest level since January 2011, when it reached 5.2%. 

Large increases have been recorded not only in energy (electricity +37.8%, heating oil +45.2%), but almost across the board, including food staples such as bread, pasta, potatoes, fish, meat, poultry and cold cuts.

Tellingly, whereas price increases were only confined to lamb and goat meat until the beginning of autumn, now there are significant hikes for pork, beef and poultry, related to rises in feed prices and electricity costs.

Price increases have also been recorded in clothing and footwear, which are categories in which prices had previously been falling or remained stagnant for almost a decade.