Gov’t says inflation tamed

The government yesterday claimed success in containing inflation – against the dire predictions of the effects of putting on the Olympic Games in August and oil price rises. «Bank of Greece and National Statistics Service (NSS) data show that despite the massive rise in international oil prices and well-known forecasts about ‘Olympic pricing’ and ‘waves of price increases,’ we have managed to control and contain the effects on the market and prices,» Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said. The minister stressed that inflation in the period from March to October 2004 has remained at its lowest levels of the last four years. Last month inflation fell to 2.9 percent from 3.6 percent in October 2003: «This containment was achieved despite the much more important impact of oil prices on inflation, ranging between 0.44 and 0.93 percentage points, compared with a decrease, in some cases, of their contribution to that period in 2000,» he noted. Sioufas attributed this success to his ministry’s cooperation with all market players, who, he said, showed responsibility and self-restraint, respect for the law and to continuous controls by the Competition Commission. He said the government will not relax its efforts. «We are not relaxing after this success. The main causes for the maintenance of hard-core inflation at higher levels than other European Union countries is related to longstanding inflexibilities in the local system of production, movement and the trade in goods and services. To remedy the situation, we are promoting the liberalization of the electricity and natural gas markets and strengthening competition. We are absolutely orientated toward this objective,» the minister confirmed. The Development Ministry also published a list of specific NSS data that showed fruit and vegetable prices fell between 0.95 percent and 37.89 percent in October, year-on-year.