Government worried over a sharp rise in inflation

The recent bad weather may cause a big jump in inflation, just as happened in January 2002, the government fears. Adding to these worries is the likelihood of war in Iraq and its effect on oil prices. «The Greek economy is feeling the dual pressure (of) extreme weather phenomena and… the uncertainty regarding a war,» Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said yesterday after meeting with PM Costas Simitis over the issue. Earlier, Christodoulakis had presided over a meeting of several ministers to discuss responses to inflationary pressures. At the meeting, Deputy Development Minister Christos Theodorou said that the inflation rate would accelerate from 3.1 percent at the end of January to 3.5 percent at end-February. There are fears, however, that inflation may jump to 4 percent. In response, Greece is importing fruit and vegetables, Christodoulakis said.