(ANSA) - Venice, August 14 - Italians have faced staggering increases as great as 70% in the price of many services over the past decade, a study said Tuesday. And much of this has occurred since the Italian government opened up several sectors of the economy to competition, the Mestre-based association of artisans and small businessmen CGIA said in a report. Water bills soared by an average of 69.8% in Italy between 2002 and this year, it said. At the same time, the cost of natural gas rose by 56.7%; waste-collection fees jumped by 54.5%; train tickets jumped by 49.8%; electricity by 38.2%; and postal services increased by 28.7%. The only decrease was reported in the price of telephone services, which dropped by 7.7% in the past decade. Over the same period, the national inflation rate rose by 24%. Although the common euro currency was introduced during this period, it played a relatively small role in the price jumps, according to Giuseppe Bortolussi, CGIA secretary. Instead, he blames the ever-increasing cost of raw materials, particularly energy costs, and the opening up to competition of sectors that were previously government controlled - such as the railways and natural-gas delivery. For example, since 2000 when railways were opened to competition, ticket prices have jumped by 53.2%. And since the gas market was opened in 2003, average bills have increased by 33.5%.