SEOUL, March 26 (Yonhap) — South Korea will step up efforts to ease growing inflationary pressure as hikes in global grain prices have jacked up prices of processed products, a senior government official said Friday.
Vice First Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom also said the government plans to consider measures to ease financial burdens of businesses that have suffered from hikes in raw material prices.
“People have felt higher price pressures as prices of processed goods, such as ready-to-eat steamed rice, bread and tofu have increased in line with hikes in global grain prices since the second half of last year,” Kim said at a meeting on inflation with related government officials.
He said the country will strengthen the monitoring of price movements of products closely linked to people’s lives in a bid to ease price pressures.
The government will also consider releasing its stockpile of raw materials, expanding financial and taxation support, and enhancing import procedures to help companies grappling with difficulties from rises in raw material prices.
Since the second half of last year, prices of nonferrous metals and grain have sharply risen, and oil prices also showed an uptrend pattern amid a global economic recovery.
The country’s overall inflationary pressure has remained subdued amid the COVID-19 pandemic. But recent increases in food and oil prices are spawning concerns that inflation may pick up amid economic slumps caused by the coronavirus outbreak.
The country’s consumer prices grew at the fastest clip in one year in February due mainly to sharp gains in prices of agricultural and livestock products.
The finance ministry earlier said the growth of consumer prices is likely to temporarily pick up in the second quarter, affected by hikes in food and oil prices.