ST prices blamed for inflation rise

A PRICE hike by fixed-line monopoly Slovak Telecom (ST) at the beginning of August is behind a 0.5 per cent increase in consumer prices for the month, say analysts.

According to Slovakia's Statistics Office (ŠÚ), consumer prices in the post and telecoms sector jumped by 12.5 per cent compared to the previous month and 12.1 per cent year-on-year, while other consumer costs rose only slightly, or decreased.

Prices for alcoholic drinks and tobacco products, for example, were up by 0.7 per cent for the month and 9.2 per cent for the year, while prices for food and non-alcoholic drinks fell by 4.3 per cent monthly and 0.7 per cent year-on-year.

"If prices in this category [post and telecoms] had remained unchanged, the monthly inflation would have been 0.1 percent and the year-on-year headline inflation would have been 2.3 per cent [rather than 2.7 per cent]," said UniBanka analyst Viliam Pätoprstý.

However, some questions have been raised on ŠÚ's incorporation of ST's revised prices into inflation figures, as the company has introduced new services, some of which include free minutes or other possible price mitigating factors.

While monthly and headline inflation figures exceeded previous expectations, core inflation rose by only 0.1 per cent in August, leading analysts to discount inflation as a potential problem.

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