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Lee discusses price of ramen with his advisers

Feb 28,2008
President Lee Myung-bak devoted his first meeting with senior advisers yesterday to discussions about inflation and concerns about the domestic economy.
“As you all know, the world economy is struggling and prices have been rising globally,” Lee said in his introductory remarks to the eight senior secretaries, according to a pool report. The closed-door meeting, which began at 9:17 a.m. yesterday, lasted about an hour.
Lee cited the rapidly spiking price of flour, which has forced local food companies and restaurants to raise their prices, as a big potential threat.
Korean makers of ramen raised the price for a pack by 100 won (11 cents) earlier this month, causing people to rush to snap them up by the case before the increase. Local Chinese restaurants are also set to soon raise the price of the staple jjajangmyeon noodles, a major gauge of inflation in Korea.
“The 100-won price hike means little to those who rarely eat ramen, but the 100-won increase really does big damage to the poor who feed themselves with cheap ramen,” Lee said. “Not only raw material prices but also grain prices are rapidly climbing ... and it will deliver the biggest blow to the low-income public.”
Lee, a former CEO of Hyundai Engineering and Construction, used his decades-long experience in business to win public support from Koreans squeezed by a slowing economy.
Kang Man-soo, Lee’s nominee to head the Finance Ministry, earlier lowered expectations about Lee’s often-stated goal of 7 percent annual economic growth. Kang said yesterday the nation’s gross domestic product will expand by less than 5 percent this year due to the global economic slowdown.
“I want all government agencies and bodies, economy-related or not, to focus on reviving the economy in the early days of the new administration,” Lee told his aides.



By Jung Ha-won Staff Reporter [hawon@joongang.co.kr]


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