NEWS

National spending boycott today

Consumer and trade unions have called for a nationwide, 24-hour boycott of all goods and services today in protest against price increases since the adoption of the euro. The government, worried about the effect of inflation, has backed the protest, while opposition parties have blamed it for the increases, charging that it has not exercised control over prices and has also raised public utility rates excessively. «Not a single euro on the market,» said the Institute of Consumer Protection (INKA). «What we could not achieve as citizens we may achieve as consumers.» In a symbolic protest against public utilities, INKA also urged people not to use electricity or make phone calls for two minutes after 10 p.m. today. Employees of the mass transport system called Athenians to use buses, trolley buses, the Metro system and Athens-Kifissia railway without buying tickets between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. INKA President Haralambos Kouris urged all consumers to take part. «The greater the success of the boycott, the clearer the message will be in all directions,» he said. Prime Minister Costas Simitis met with the board of the Federation of Greek Industries (SEV) and with exporters’ federations to prepare for the speech on economy policy that he will deliver in Thessaloniki on Friday. Economy and Finance Minister Nikos Christodoulakis said: «It has become common understanding that, in the eurozone, inflation is a threat to the competitiveness of Greek products and services and, in the long term, employment. No sector involved in Greek production (workers, businesses, the State) will benefit from price hikes.» SEV President Odysseas Kyriakopoulos said the best way to curb inflation was through competitiveness and free market policies.