Government officials meet on price stability

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Government officials meet on price stability

Vice ministers of government branches discussed price stabilization measures for the first time yesterday since the inauguration of President Park Geun-hye.

At a meeting hosted by Vice Finance Minister Shin Je-yoon, officials focused on preventing increases in agricultural and oil prices this spring.

“Although the country’s inflation rate stays in the 1 percent range, there are inflationary factors that could push the rate to 2 percent in the coming months,” Shin said. “The goal for this year should be keeping the rate in the 2 percent range, the same level as other advanced countries.”

Some vegetable prices, including spinach and lettuce, have been going down recently, while prices of cabbages and onions are soaring due to unprecedented cold spells and heavy snow.

The government officials decided to release a total of 4,000 tons of cabbages in March and April when demand from schools is expected to surge with the start of the spring semester.

For onions, the government will import all 21,000 tons designated for the whole year by the end of this month.

As for rising international oil prices, the government decided to offer gasoline at cheaper prices to altteul (thrifty) gas stations.

The Korea National Oil Corporation will start supplying a total of 35 million liters of gasoline at 1,800 won ($1.66) per liter for 886 altteul pumps across the nation when the domestic oil price exceeds 2,000 won.

Altteul stations will be able to purchase gas for 130 won per liter less than at other private polled stations like GS Caltex, Hyundai Oilbank and S-Oil.

For grocery prices, the central government will commission the Fair Trade Commission to crack down on any price gouging by local retailers. The FTC is currently investigating discount stores.

By Song Su-hyun [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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