By Agnes Szucs
BRUSSELS (AA) - Belgian consumers are unable to take advantage of the zero inflation in their country due to high food prices and energy taxes, a new government report suggested on Thursday.
According to the latest report released by the Belgian Economy Ministry’s Price Observatory, inflation – or more precisely the harmonized index of consumer prices – dropped to 0% in the second trimester of 2020.
The result is mostly due to 16.3% fall in energy prices compared to the same period of the previous year following the decrease of international oil and gas prices.
However, Belgian consumers remain to pay the biggest electricity bills in the region due to high taxes.
An average household is charged €912.6 ($1,080) for power in a year, while the same bill is considerably lower in France and the Netherlands -- €657.5 ($778) and €571.9 ($677) respectively, according to the Price Obervatory.
At the same time, food prices in Belgium have increased with an average of 3.2% compared to last year.
Unprocessed food prices have shown the biggest surge with a growth of 6.1%, including 11.6% and 5.6% rise in fruit and meat prices respectively.
In addition to that, supermarkets raised their prices up to 5% at the beginning of the coronavirus lockdown in March and they still haven’t lowered them since the reopening, consumer rights group TestAchat announced.
Its latest report also revealed that consumer baskets composed of the products from the most popular national and international brands can cost now up to 12% more than before the COVID-19 crisis.