A ticket on Suburban and Medium Distance trains is going up by an average of 3 per cent. Álvaro Cabrera
The sixth year of the economic crisis has now begun and it brings with it yet another increase in the price of most basic services. Neither the salaries of those who still have jobs nor the average retirement pension have risen by as much and, with spending power significantly reduced, many people will not find it easy to face the increases in certain taxes.
Electricity has risen by 3 per cent for millions of domestic customers, although for some - those whose contracted supply is lower than 3 kilowatts, families where all members are out of work, pensioners on the lowest income - the price has been frozen. The government is also going to penalise increases in consumption by charging more and has therefore had to eradicate the estimated monthly meter readings. There will be further increases during the year, because the tax of 7 per cent which has to be paid by the suppliers will end up being passed on to the public.
Petrol and diesel will be going up immediately if the oil companies and petrol stations decide to include in the final prices the tax on biofuels which form part of the products' composition. The exemption from this tax ended on January 1st. At the pumps, this new tax could mean an extra charge of between 3 and 5 céntimos per litre.
There is some relief for home owners with a mortgage. The average one-year Euribor rate, which is the main reference for mortgages with variable interest, dropped in December to around 0.55 per cent, which is the lowest in its ten year history. On an average loan of 150,000 euros over 25 years, the annual review will mean a saving of some 1,200 euros over the next twelve months.
Altadis is applying an increase of 4.8 per cent on the price of all its brands of cigarettes, 9 per cent on all pipe tobacco and 8.3 per cent on the main brands of cigar.
The crisis has caused a flight of customers to virtual operators and created huge competition among the big companies such as Telefónica, Vodafone and Orange. The most expensive monthly charge for landlines is that of Telefónica, and it has been frozen at 13.974 euros plus IVA for the past five years. This could go up by the same rate as the Retail Price Index, not only in 2013 but also every year until 2016.
On 1st January the cost of sending normal letters and postcards up to 20 grammes in weight went up by 2.7 per cent to 37 céntimos.
The price of suburban, medium distance and regional rail sevices is going up by an average of 3 to 3.5 per cent. The discount on return tickets will be increased from 10 to 20 per cent on conventional regional services and those that use the high speed lines. Companies which run the inter-urban bus services have been authorised to charge 6 per cent more to compensate for the rise in fuel costs. Airport taxes will include a surcharge of 85 céntimos per person, and tolls on state-run motorways have gone up by an average of 2.4 per cent.
How to make savings
Consumers associations point out that it is still possible to save money by, for example, writing a list before going shopping, comparing prices, making note of special offers, buying own brands and seasonal produce, filling washing machines and dishwashers completely, limiting central heating and showering instead of taking a bath.