ECONOMY

Inflation seen up at 5.0-5.1 pct

The consumer price index is seen accelerating to above 5 percent in July on an annual basis, from 4.9 percent in June, its highest level since September 1998. Finance Ministry sources said rising oil prices and energy costs will push the index to around 5.0 or 5.1 percent. A recent hike in electricity tariffs is also seen adding a tenth of a percentage point to the July figure. Public Power Corporation increased electricity bills by up to 7 percent for homeowners and 10 percent for businesses as of the beginning of July in the third price hike in the last 12 months. Ministry officials are declining to give estimates on where they see inflation averaging for 2008 due to continual oil price hikes. Alpha Bank estimates inflation will average 4.4 percent for 2008 before retreating to 3 percent next year. The National Statistics Service is scheduled to announce July’s inflation figure on August 7.