Rising energy costs will fuel inflation, economists predict The annual rate of inflation is expected to have risen to, or above, 3 percent at the end of September for the first time this year, due to rising energy costs, economists said yesterday. The rise in the consumer price index (CPI) came in at a lower-than-expected 2.7 percent year-on-year in August due to summer sales and cheaper fresh produce. «We see September inflation at 3 percent year-on-year in September,» said an economist from National Bank, citing the 9 percent jump in energy costs compared with the same month a year earlier. Oil prices extended record-setting highs yesterday, with US light crude hitting $51.48 a barrel before easing to $51.18. The European Commission said on Tuesday that eurozone inflation pressures are likely to persist as oil prices look set to remain high for a while. Alpha Bank economist Dimitrios Maroulis said higher school tuition fees related to the start of the school year in September and more expensive fresh produce are also expected to lift inflation. The National Statistics Service will release September consumer and EU-harmonized figures tomorrow. «It is logical to see the uptrend continuing into October with the inclusion of heating oil in the CPI basket next month. Fourth-quarter inflation is expected to be higher than the previous quarters,» said EFG Eurobank economist Platon Monokroussos. (Reuters) More than 300 million must be invested in tourism sector The minimum amount required to be invested in infrastructure and marketing in the tourism sector over the next three years in order for Greece to take full advantage of the successful hosting of the Olympic Games is 300 million euros, according to a study commissioned by the Federation of Tourism Sector Professionals (SETE) and which will be presented in SETE’s 3rd Conference on Tourism and Development, next Monday and Tuesday. The study was conducted by a Spanish consultancy and draws on the experience of Barcelona, following the 1992 Olympic Games. The study recommends, among other things, the creation of local marketing units and a single branding of all Greek tourist destinations. Conference participants will decide on the adoption of the study’s recommendations. Consumer protection The new office of Consumers’ Advocate will provide pressure on banks for transparency in their transactions with clients, the government hopes, after a first round of talks between the Ministry of Development and bank representatives ended yesterday with several important issues unresolved. These notably involve the extent of penalties for defaulting loan-takers and the appearance of the real interest rate (after various fees) on a prominent place in contracts signed between the banks and their clients. New ships Passenger shipping firm Hellas Flying Dolphins will augment its fleet with two new fast ships that will be able to operate in rough seas. Flying Cat 5 and Flying Cat 6, built in Norway, will become operational on January 1, 2005. Each ship can carry 340 passengers at an operational speed of 32 knots.