S. Korean president says taming inflation No.1 priority

17:07, March 10, 2011      

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South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on Thursday threw his weight behind focusing the nation's attention on inflation rather than growth.

"We have growth and inflation to worry about this year, but we have no choice but to pay greater attention to inflation," the president said in an economic policy meeting he presided over earlier in the day, according to his office Cheong Wa Dae.

Faced with rising consumer prices and raw materials, Lee has declared "war" against runaway inflation with his eyes set on the growth target of 5 percent and inflation target of 3 percent in 2011.

Lee, however, said there are things that are "beyond control," such as a jump in oil prices due to unrest in the Middle East. The average price of Dubai crude oil, South Korea's benchmark, recently soared above 100 U.S. dollars per barrel. South Korea relies solely on imports for all its oil needs.

Prices of agricultural and fisheries products are rising due to seasonal factors regardless of government efforts for curbing inflationary pressure, the president added, taking garlic and cabbage prices for example.

He also called for mid- and long-term level measures to fight inflation, his office said.

In another move aimed at taming growing inflationary pressure, meanwhile, the Bank of Korea earlier in the day raised the benchmark seven-day repo rate by a quarter percentage point to 3 percent.

Source: Xinhua
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