Consumer price index has shot up by 18 percent over the last five years

Everyone feels the pinch in a different place – young people in the cost of entertainment, parents in the cost of children’s needs and household necessities, and older people in health costs. However, only those who spend their wages carefully and systematically are in a position to know what the National Statistics Service and the Development Ministry have found – that the general consumer price index rose by 18 percent between October 1999 and October 2004, or by 3.3 percent since the beginning of this year. This increase is reflected in what we pay at the grocer’s, at the open-air market or supermarket or at the beginning of the month when bills are due. «An average wage is 700-800 euros. So with two wages like these, my husband and I support our three-member family, and our own home,» said 37-year-old Zoe Lambropoulou, who works in the private sector. «So we pay 100 euros in telephone bills every two months, plus 100 euros for our mobile phones, another 100 euros in our apartment building maintenance costs, plus 120 euros for electricity every two months and 30 euros for water every four months. Our child goes to a private language institute to learn English, another 60 euros per month plus 25 euros for soccer, for a total of at least 400 euros a month. To that we add the supermarket shopping (about 50-100 euros a month), and car maintenance costs (gasoline, insurance and now the registration fee). We can’t manage. I have forgotten about clothes, perhaps in February, if I am lucky, and I am trying to keep a tight rein on my son’s clothes, shoes, books, toys and so on. Naturally, we can’t even think about holidays, expensive nights out over the Christmas period or a large Christmas feast. I don’t know what happened; I don’t want to blame the Olympics but I have really noticed a difference over the past three months.» Statistics The consumer price index, published every month by the National Statistics Service, confirms all of the above. Since the beginning of the year, prices of clothing and shoes have increased by 12.3 percent, housing by 6.21 percent, transport by 5.7 percent, household supplies and services by 4.8 percent and education by 4.35 percent. Looking back at the pre-euro era of five years ago, increases seem dramatic. The greatest difference is in the price of alcoholic drinks and tobacco (27.9 percent); in cafes, restaurants and hotels (27.5 percent) and housing (24.6 percent). Education costs have also risen a great deal (22.2 percent), as has healthcare (21.7 percent), food (16.7 percent), and clothing and shoes (17.6 percent). Generally the consumer price index has risen by 18 percent over the past five years. Complaints Consumer organizations have seen a rise in the number of allegations from customers. «Our general data indicate that in most services, increases have been above the inflation rate,» according to Panayiota Kalapotharakou, vice president of EKPOIZO, the Greek Quality of Life Consumer Union. «For example, insurance costs have risen 10 percent in a year, and some plans by up to 70 percent. A similar situation exists in private cramming colleges. Although the state has tried to impose a ceiling of 4 percent, this has been sidestepped, particularly by foreign language institutes where increases are over 10 percent annually.» The situation is not as bad for private lessons, which are impossible to control, but the hourly rate depends upon a number of factors, such as the relationship between the family and the teacher, the latter’s experience, the area and the subject being coached. So there is a wide range of prices, with an average of 20-30 euros per hour.