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Italy poised for new price hikes, consumer group complains

Codacons files complaint against regulator Agcom for postal hike

27 December, 19:23
Italy poised for new price hikes, consumer group complains (ANSA) - Rome, December 27 - Italian consumer group Codacons on Friday declared Italians will suffer major hikes for fundamental services and products starting January 1.

Costs are set to go up for postal services, local transport, garbage collection, cafe items and vending machine snacks and beverages, the group said.

Codacons complained that the new price hikes come on top of a fusillade of others just last year, which boosted prices faster than the European Union average, and sharpened consumer hardship as Italy struggles to emerge from its longest recession in two decades.

Between 2012 and 2013, prices climbed 5.3% for transport, 6.7% for drinking water, 4.7% for garbage collection, 5.2% for taxis, 9.9% for telephony, 4.1% for road tolls and 10.1% for postal services, Codacons reported.

Meanwhile, though gas and electricity bills have dipped recently, Italians still pay among the highest rates in Europe, and have seen major price increases in the recent past, Codacons said.

In 2012, Italian households saw electricity bills rise 11.2%, compared to a European average of 6.6%. Gas bills climbed 10.6% compared to an EU average of 10.3%, reported Codacons.

The consumer group added that it has filed a complaint against price regulator Agcom in the Lazio Administrative Court for rubber stamping postal price increases for the new year.

''In this way, (post office) users risk paying for the Poste Italiane's entry in Alitalia, and thus the airline's rescue,'' the consumer group lamented in a statement, making reference to the Poste Italiane's decision to inject 75 million euros into Italy's troubled flagship carrier, part of a government-engineered 500-million-euro rescue package, which also includes 200 million euros in loans. Some rival airlines have complained that the package amounts to State aid, an accusation that the Italian government has denied.

Last week, news broke that Alitalia is to get a capital increase of 300 million euros from Etihad Airways, the flag carrier of the United Arab Emirates, after its shareholder-of-reference Air France-KLM passed on the opportunity to invest new capital.