Euro rip-off driving inflation. report claims

 

Irish consumers are being ripped off by retailers who are using the introduction of the euro as an excuse to "substantially" raise prices, a study reportedly found today.

The Minister of State for Consumer Affairs Mr Kitt ordered an investigation after research showed that the cost of medical care, clothes, alcohol and many kinds of entertainment had leapt since the euro was introduced.

A spokesman for Mr Kitt said this afternoon that the minister welcomed the report.

The spokesman denied, however, that the issue would damage the government's credibility after reassurances that price hikes would not result from the implementation of the euro.

"We have to remember that there are also legitimate reasons for price increases," the spokesman said. "This report has still not been published and the minister has not read its full contents.

"He would call for it to be published as soon as possible."

The study by the Consumers' Association of Ireland (CAI), due to be published later in the week, also revealed that the price hikes are set to increase inflation by one per cent by the end of the year, the Sunday Independentreported today.

The cost of a private or semi-private room in a hospital had risen by 15 per cent, while a trip to a GP would cost 10 per cent more at 35 euros.

Prices had also shot up in Dublin pubs - with one using the changeover as a cover for a 12 per cent increase in the cost of a pint. Soft drinks costs had also increased heavily.

The CAI predicted that the price hikes were set to cause a 0.5 per cent jump in the rate of inflation for January and February, bringing it to 5.2 per cent by the end of the year.

The findings will come as a blow to the Government which assured people that Codes of Practice, accepted by retailers, would prevent any price hikes being hidden behind the introduction of the new currency.

PA