The Irish government is planning to spend €1m on an advertising campaign aimed at encouraging consumers to fight price rises and help reduce a national inflation rate of 4.3%, which is significantly higher than the EU average.

The campaign, to be run on radio and TV as well as in the press and on billboards, will urge consumers to shop around and to complain about price increases they consider unjustified.

The initiative reflects growing government concern that the Republic, now one of the most expensive countries in the EU, is frightening off tourists and investors and pricing itself out of business.

According to director of consumer affairs Carmel Foley, the advertisements will remind shoppers they have the power to make a difference. “We need a change of culture here, where questioning the price of something is seen as a good thing for the community, rather than evidence that you are a cheapskate,” she said.

The campaign is to be launched in the autumn, timed so that consumers will remember the lower prices they experienced while abroad on holiday.

In addition to saying No to any attempted rip-off by retailers, shoppers will also be encouraged to report those who fail to display unit pricing, as required by law.

The Irish Business and Employers’ Confederation welcomed the campaign, with spokesman Brian Geoghegan warning that because of what he called “the soaring cost of living”, foreign companies were bypassing the Republic and setting up in central and eastern Europe instead.

However, the Irish Consumers’ Association was sceptical, pointing out that the government had contributed to the prices spiral through increases in VAT, electricity, health and other charges. “People don’t need to be told to shop around”, said a spokesman. “They are already doing it because of the high cost of everything.”