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Political advisor suggests forecasting CPI index
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China should set up a committee to monitor the consumer price index (CPI) and make forecasts for the coming three to six months, a political advisor said here Monday.

"China's economy, which is sound in general, is shadowed by price spikes," said Zheng Zukang, a senior professor with the School of Management of the Fudan University in Shanghai.

"We should enhance the research and forecast of prices in domestic and world markets so as to get ourselves better prepared for fluctuations," said Zheng, a member of the National Committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, China's top political advisory body.

Price hikes were among the "topics of most concern" of Chinese netizens who hope this year's parliamentary session would address, along with housing, medicare reform and social security, according to an online survey by several leading Chinese websites including xinhuanet.com and sina.com.

China's CPI, a barometer of inflation, retouched an 11-year monthly high with a 7.1-percent growth in January. The CPI rose 4.8 percent in 2007, also the highest since 1997.

Pork prices, which had been considered as the major factor driving up the CPI in the second half of 2007, surged 58.8 percent in January, said the National Bureau of Statistics.

"The price rises were largely influenced by many international factors," Zheng pointed out. "Thus we need to have comprehensive information of major commodities in world markets, such as crude oil, coal, steel and food."

By analyzing the data, noted the professor, China could forecast the trend of price changes that would be helpful for adjusting the macro-control measures.

"Although forecasting CPI index for the following three to six months is no easy work, it is feasible," said Zheng, who specializes in mathematical statistics.

Zheng also suggested increasing subsidies to the low-income social groups amid roaring inflation.

(Xinhua News Agency March 3, 2008)

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