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Dearer Fuel Pushes Up Annual Inflation to 2.3% (II)

Ljubljana, 09 February (STA) - The annual inflation rate in Slovenia rose 0.3 percentage points to 2.3% in January due to a surge in energy prices, Slovenia's Statistics Office said on Thursday.

The increase in the annual rate comes despite a 0.5% monthly drop in prices stemming from seasonal sales of clothing and footwear.

Prices of clothing and footwear were down 16% in January, but the effect on the annual rate was cancelled out by a continuing rise in prices of petrol, heating oil and electricity.

Prices in the energy-heavy housing and transport groups rose 1.2% and 1% respectively in January, as petrol prices hit record highs an prices of energy surged in general.

Prices of district heating were up 4.2%, fuel by 3.1% and electricity by 2.3% on the month, the Statistics Office said.

Compared to January 2011, prices in the two groups were up by 4.7% and 2% respectively.

Also driving up annual inflation was a 4.1% increase in prices of alcohol and tobacco products and a 3.9% rise in food and beverage prices.

Increases in these groups were partly offset by a 2.2% drop in prices of clothing and footwear.

However, almost all groups of products recorded price increases on the year.

Even the communication group, which had been registering a negative price trend for months, was almost flat year-on-year in January as prices increased by 2.9% after special offers from telecommunication providers expired.

Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU benchmark, prices in Slovenia were up by 2.3% in the past 12 months.

The Institute for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD), the government's economic-think tank, responded to the latest inflation data by saying that the monthly price trends were in line with anticipated trends.

IMAD added that the outlook for inflation continued to be affected by weak economic activity, which is expected to keep a lid on prices for the foreseeable future.

Meanwhile, the Statistics Office responded today to complaints that official inflation statistics were underplaying the effect of price increases on the general population.

The deputy director of the office, Genovefa Ružić, admitted that additional calculations made by the office using a sample of the most widely bought necessities confirmed that official data were underestimating the effects of price increases.

The separate calculations showed that the official inflation rate was lower than that measures on the basic group of products in most of the recent years.

In order to help people keep track of the effects of prices increases on their households, the Statistics Office launched a personal inflation calculator on its website.

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