ATHENS, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Consumer prices in Greece increased at a rate of 0.6 percent in 2018, almost half as fast as in 2017, according to data published here on Friday by the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT).
December also witnessed a 0.6 percent increase of the consumer price index compared to the last month of 2017, while on a monthly basis prices advanced 0.1 percent from November 2018.
Leading the price hikes in 2018 were, according to ELSTAT, the communications sector -- with a 5.3 percent price increase due to a rise in telephony service rates -- and the alcoholic beverages and tobacco sector with a 1.2 percent advance, mainly because of a cigarette price rise.
ELSTAT also announced that the European Union-harmonized inflation rate amounted to 0.8 percent year-on-year throughout 2018.
This has matched the expectations of the 2018 state budget, which had forecast a decline in inflation from the 1.1 percent level of 2017 "due to the excessive production capacity of the economy and the exhaustion, during 2017, of the impact from the increases in indirect taxation."
For this year, the state budget as well as the European Commission project a 1.2 percent price inflation in Greece.
The 2019 state budget attributes this expected acceleration in price growth from 2018 to a combination of factors, such as "the lower excessive capacity, the weaker growth of global trade, the growth trend in international oil rates and the maintenance of the key interest rates of the European Central Bank on the current low levels at least up to the summer of 2019."
The Greek government expects economic growth to increase to 2.5 percent in 2019 from a projected 2.1 percent rate in 2018.