The cost of living in the Balearics went up again last month, but the runaway rate of inflation appears to be slowing down. The one per cent rise in the consumer price index was just below the national rate of inflation. Clothing, alcohol and tobacco prices rose more than the rest of the market and since January, the cost of living in the Balearics has risen by 2.6 per cent. The biggest increase during the first four months of the year has been in transport costs, 5.3 per cent. Alcohol and tobacco prices have risen by 3.6 per cent, along with hotel, cafe and restaurant prices by 3.5 per cent. Over the past 12 months, inflation has risen to 3.9 per cent, well above the national average. It appears that “euro rounding-up” has finally been accounted for, a phenomenon fervently denied by the government during the first few months of the year. Spanish consumer prices data for April reflects the impact of “some rounding up” in certain goods and services due to the introduction of the euro, Secretary of State for the Economy Jose Folgado said yesterday. Folgado said it is “difficult” to pinpoint exactly which service prices have been affected by the euro, but noted that “this is obviously what is behind the sizeable increase” in hotel and restaurant prices in April. Folgado also highlighted the month-on-month increase in clothing and footwear prices. “The market for these products is completely open to competition,” he said, adding that “it is likely that these prices were also affected by the rounding up process.” But he said the euro-related rounding up is only temporary “and will not last.” Economy Minister Rodrigo Rato said the government “is not at all satisfied with a year-on-year increase in consumer prices of 3.6%.” Balearic Finance Minister Joan Mesquida also expressed his concern about rising inflation in the region, but blamed central government's fiscal policies. Balearic consumer organisations and union leaders also complained about the further increase in the cost of living with “workers losing spending power at a monthly rate.” Meqsuida added that apart from the central government's tax hikes which are pushing prices up in the Balearics, “the national and international economic threats” are only making the financial climate much worse. Balearic union leaders said that while consumers and workers are having to “withstand the effects of economic downturn on the one hand, on the other they are having to meet the costs of runaway inflation.”

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