ECONOMY

Inflation dips to 3.1 percent

Consumer inflation stood at 3.1 percent year-on-year in December, its lowest level since last January, according to National Statistics Service (NSS) data released yesterday. A month-on-month comparison could not be made due to a two-month NSS strike that delayed the release of figures for October and November. In September, inflation was steady at 3.3 percent year-on-year. Month-on-month comparisons and average 12-month figures will be released on January 26, together with October and November inflation figures, the NSS announced. «The Greek economy, despite massive difficulties internationally, ended (the year) relatively well, with lower-than-expected inflation and growth higher than expected,» Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis told reporters earlier. Inflation stood at 3.1 percent in January 2003 but spiked up above 4 percent in the following months as bad weather hit crops, boosting food prices. Inflation only began cooling off around mid-year. The drop versus the 3.4 percent figure of December 2002 came on the back of a 1.8 percent decline in telecommunications prices and despite a 7.3 percent increase in alcoholic drinks and tobacco prices as well as a 4.4 percent increase in households’ education costs, NSS said. Greece’s harmonized consumer price inflation, the rate used by the European Central Bank in its calculations of eurozone inflation, also stood at 3.1 percent in December, down from 3.3 percent in September (the last available figure), and one point above the average for the 12-state eurozone. This discrepancy is hurting Greece’s competitiveness, limiting exports outside the eurozone. (Reuters, Kathimerini)