Korea to publicize food prices at franchises to control inflation

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On Friday, Vice Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon is chairing a meeting of vice ministers to formulate policies to rein in consumer prices at the government complex in Seoul. (Yonhap)

SEJONG — Economic policymakers are scrambling to rein in consumer prices on the belief that inflationary pressures will continue this month, Deputy Finance Minister Lee Eog-weon said Friday.

Several policy measures need to be taken, including the publication of food price tags in large-scale restaurant franchises and the extension of fuel tax reimbursement.

“Restaurant prices rose 5.5% in January year-on-year. This is the strongest growth (in nearly 13 years) since 5.6 percent, recorded in February 2009,” Lee told a meeting of vice ministers.

Food prices sold at major restaurant franchises will be posted online on the Korea Agro-Fisheries and Food Trade Corp. website, starting Feb. 23. Service charges on food deliveries will also be made public to the Korean National Consumer Council. Organizations website starting this month, he said. The measure aims to help consumers make reasonable choices, he added.

Citing a case of price-fixing among major ice cream producers, the deputy minister said the government would take tough disciplinary action against those cartels seeking to simultaneously raise prices.

With soaring international crude prices seen as a key driver of rising consumer prices, local policymakers are considering extending tax cuts on fuels including gasoline, diesel and liquefied petroleum gas .

According to the Korea National Oil Corp., the benchmark gasoline price climbed for the 40th straight day, starting Jan. 10, to 1,727.14 won ($1.44) a liter on Friday.

By Kim Yon-se ([email protected])

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