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EDITIONS
Friday, 5 July, 2002, 14:41 GMT 15:41 UK
Italy complains about 'euro inflation'
Italian chef with pizza celebrating the euro
Do pizzas cost more in euros?
Italian consumer groups are calling on citizens to join a spending boycott on Friday, in protest at what they see as profiteering by retailers and producers since the euro replaced the lira in January.

The government insists that inflation through those six months has been about 1-2%, and that the switch to the euro has not caused prices to rise.

But many consumers disagree, complaining that they are being ripped off when buying both necessities and luxury goods.

The price tags in euros are often much higher than a simple conversion from the old lira would suggest, consumers believe.

Twice the price

Mary Fort, a British working mother in Rome, was certain that she and most other residents of the city were being ripped off.

"The price rises have been much greater than anyone expected - and much more than anyone is admitting," she told the BBC.

When it comes to fruit and vegetables, "prices are twice what I expect to pay when I convert back into old lire".

Prices of school equipment, which in Italy parents must pay for, have risen up 11% since December 2001, one survey suggested.

For items such as shoes and clothes, shops had often simply knocked off three zeros from the old lire price, converting - for example - a 70,000 lire tag into a 70 euro one, Ms Fort said.

"That's a nearly 100% price rise," she said.

Official denial

The complaints are not new. Since the start of the year, Italians have insisted that even public services have suffered from rampant euro-inflation.

And several Cabinet members have expressed grave reservations about the new currency, causing the foreign minister Renato Ruggiero, to resign in protest

The government nonetheless continues to insist that the switchover has gone smoothly, and has benefited Italians.

But Ms Fort said: "The government are the only people saying that.

"I don't think I know anybody else who would agree."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's David Willey in Rome
"The government insists that inflation since the introduction of the euro has been 1-2%. Other people simply don't agree."

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21 Feb 02 | Europe
07 Jan 02 | Europe
04 Jan 02 | Business
03 Jan 02 | Europe
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