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Politics

Leaders Discuss Inflation, Energy Price Hikes at 7th Delphi Economic Forum

April 24, 2022

DELPHI, Greece – Leaders in the world of politics, business and academia convened at the seventh annual Delphi Economic Forum, to discuss world affairs, sustainability, and investments, among other topics, April 6th – 9th.

The four-day event featured some 780 speakers including Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and European Commission Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, who were among those who spoke on matters of increased costs of living, particularly those belonging to the energy sector.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and European Commission Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, were among those who spoke on matters of increased costs of living, particularly those belonging to the energy sector at the 7th annual Delphi Economic Forum April 6th – 9th.

Mitsasotakis, who spoke of the threatening energy crisis, highlighted issues with increasing prices and the current state of the economy. “As we were coming out of the pandemic, we were all hoping we would be able to resume rapid growth… forecasting growth that would exceed 5% in 2022,” he said.

“Of course nobody thought that we would be faced with a situation where we would have a war on the European continent, and it is very clear that the Russian invasion of Ukraine will have significant ramifications for the global economy,” he added, stating that the Greek economy is still expected to grow, albeit at a reduced rate.

Meanwhile, the annual inflation rate in Greece accelerated to 8.9 percent in March of 2022, up from 7.2 percent in February, the highest since June 1995 according to a report by the Hellenic Statistical Authority. The increase is greatly attributed to the surge in natural gas prices which have skyrocketed to 78 percent, while electricity has seen a hike of 71.4 percent and heating oil 41.5 percent, the statistical authority said, attributing last month’s inflation rate increase to rapidly advancing costs in the consumer price index, including an 8.1 percent rise in food and nonalcoholic beverages, a 29.9 percent spike in housing, and a 15.4 percent jump in transportation, among increases in other sectors.

The problem of inflation and the energy crisis remain unsolved, while wages remain stagnant or even decrease, creating a social crisis, SYRIZA-Progressive Alliance leader Tsipras said during a separate fireside chat.

Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, former Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, and European Commission Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson, were among those who spoke on matters of increased costs of living, particularly those belonging to the energy sector at the 7th annual Delphi Economic Forum April 6th – 9th.

When asked to comment on price hikes and electricity bills, the former prime minister said “my electricity bill increased as well… I belong to a group of people who may be annoyed, troubled and angered by this, but I can handle this increase, however. For a family who makes 2,000 euros a month or less, a 200 euro increase makes a difference, and if you combine this with increases in the prices of basic goods such as food and transportation, I believe… we are in an economic crisis,” he said.

With fuel prices climbing to over 2 euros a liter in March, and the Greek middle class remaining fearful of exorbitantly high electricity and natural gas bills, Mitsotakis urged that the link between gas prices and electricity prices must be broken. “If we do not do that, we will impose a huge economic pain on our citizens and our businesses. I would hope that we are able to do this on the European level,” he said.

If European resources are not mobilized to help all member states address energy issues, it will be up to those member states to foot the bill to support businesses and households, as will happen in Greece, Mitsotakis said, adding that this could allow the forces of populism to emerge stronger than before.

“One thing is for certain, we cannot, for a long period of time, tolerate these very high prices of energy and electricity. We have heavily subsidized the more vulnerable households in Greece and will continue to do so, but will probably need to do even more to be able to absorb the pain on households and the real economy,” Mitsotakis said.

In a separate fireside chat, Simson, who was in Greece to discuss energy policy with key policymakers and business leaders, spoke about energy price regulation as a possible measure to benefit consumers.

“Globally, and in Europe, we have witnessed since last October higher energy prices compared to the previous years, but we do believe that national governments know local circumstances and can choose the best measures for their consumers,” she said.

During his talk, the Prime Minister also stated his belief that as renewable energy becomes more important geopolitically, Greece is in a position to become energy independent, hoping that his government can transform Greece into a “protagonist in Europe.”

 

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