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Premier: Fully Confident in Controlling Inflation

Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday that the government is fully confident in controlling inflation this year, although it will not be an easy job.

He made the remarks at a press conference following the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature.

Wen acknowledged that it will be hard for China to attain its goal of holding the rise in consumer price index (CPI) at about 4.8 percent and controlling price hikes this year, and it is made even more difficult by the worst sleet and snow disaster in decades in the first two months of this year.

"But we have no plan to change this goal," he told reporters.

The premier explained that it shows the resolve of the government to control price rises and curb inflation by setting the goal, and it will help stabilize the people's expectations for price rises by doing so.

"With price rises at a very rapid pace, the expectations for price hikes are usually more fearful than the price rises themselves," he said.

In addition, China has set this goal because it has confidence in what it has, he said, referring to the country's grain reserves of 150 to 200 million tons and general oversupply of major industrial products.

"As long as we take right policies and effective measures, we are fully confident that we can control the trend of excessive rises in prices," he said.

China's CPI rose 4.8 percent year-on-year in 2007 in China, mainly due to large increases in the cost of food and housing, Wen told the NPC annual session while delivering the government work report on March 5.

The key inflation indicator rose 8.7 percent in February over the same month last year, the highest monthly increase in nearly 12 years.

The figure was mainly pushed up by soaring food prices and the severe winter weather that wrought havoc in south China from January to February.

Food prices surged 23.3 percent in February, with pork prices up 63.4 percent, and vegetable prices rising 46 percent, contributing to about 80 percent of the CPI increase. Non-food prices edged up only 1.6 percent from a year earlier.

The February index was 1.6 percentage points higher than last month.

(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2008)

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