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China to steady prices amid inflation concerns
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China said on Monday it would take legal, economic and the necessary administrative measures to stabilize prices, a move that underscores its growing inflation concern.

The upward pressure on prices was increasing and the rapid rises in food prices have had a big impact on people's lives, said a televised conference held by the State Council, or cabinet, and attended by Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan.

The fast increases in tax revenues and foreign exchange reserves have greatly enhanced the nation's ability to guarantee supply and contain inflation, the meeting said.

China's consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, rose to an 11-year high of 6.9 percent in November, driven primarily by food and fuel price increases.

"The prices of fuel, gas, electricity, tap water, heating, public transportation and entrance tickets to tourist destinations will not be allowed to be raised in the near future," the meeting said as it reiterated decisions made at a State Council executive meeting last week.

The meeting instructed local authorities not to raise school tuitions and fees for accommodation, medical services and fertilizers. Mobile phone roaming fees were also ordered cut.

The government is also launching pricing intervention into some basic necessities and services and will boost price monitoring of important commodities, including grain, oil, meat, poultry, and eggs. It added large companies are required to register before raising commodity prices.

The increasingly prominent illegal pricing has disturbed market order and affected people's lives and consumption environment, the meeting stated.

It ordered local authorities to clampdown on illegal pricing activities, including colluding to raise prices, hoarding goods and jacking up prices and spreading rumors on price hikes that disturb market order.

The government ordered to boost production and ensure supply ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 7, and the annual meetings of the top legislature and political advisory body in March.

It reiterated the government would adopt a prudent fiscal policy and a tight monetary policy and carry out measures to boost production of grain, edible oil, pork and dairy products.

(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2008)


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