Greece plans more relief for homes and businesses hit by energy costs

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece will provide further financial relief to households, businesses and farmers facing higher outgoings due to surging energy prices, Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said on Saturday.

Natural gas prices have hit record highs in recent months, with energy demand outpacing supply as global economies recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, increasing energy costs across Europe.

Greece has taken a series of relief measures, including subsidising electricity bills for four months since September and ramping up a grant for low-income households to help them buy heating oil over the winter.

"We have already set up a strong wall as a shield against rising energy prices," Mitsotakis said during a parliamentary debate ahead of a vote on the 2022 budget.

"As a response to the new circumstances, I'm announcing additional measures," he said.

They will include further subsidies and discounts on power bills for households, businesses and low-income consumers this month. The government will also cover a big part of the energy costs incurred by farmers since August.

The total cost of the relief measures, including those announced on Saturday, is 1.35 billion euros, he said.

(Reporting by Angeliki Koutantou; Editing by Helen Popper)

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