Yoon vows to inject ample state funds to tame inflation

President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a Cabinet meeting at the government complex in Sejong, Tuesday. Courtesy of presidential office

President Yoon Suk Yeol said Tuesday that the government will inject state funds indefinitely to stabilize the prices of agricultural and livestock products until soaring consumer prices are controlled and the public sees them stabilize.The decision comes eight days before Korea elects lawmakers in the April 10 general elections, raising speculation that the rising prices of food, commodities and other necessities could hurt the public sentiment toward the administration and the ruling party.During a televised Cabinet meeting, Yoon said the government “will inject emergency stabilization funds for agricultural and livestock products indefinitely and without limit.””The consumer price for last month rose 3.1 percent year-on-year, remaining at a similar level from a month earlier,” Yoon said, citing a Statistics Korea tally released on Tuesday. “Due to the [government support for] discount events and fruit imports, the inflation in agricultural prices slowed down late last month, but the prices are still hovering at a relatively high level.”Yoon said he is “heavy-hearted because the burden on the citizens has not been alleviated” and pledged to expand the government’s support on discount events and fruit imports to small stores and traditional markets.

He also demanded that the Cabinet explore new supply channels to streamline the distribution process from producers to consumers, saying food price inflation deals the greatest blow to the vulnerable social classes.Early last month, the government and the ruling People Power Party agreed to inject 150 billion won ($111 million) of state funds to stabilize the prices of agricultural products by compensating large supermarket chains when they hold discount events.However, agricultural products, especially fruits, were maintaining their high prices. In the Statistics Korea tally, prices of agricultural products spiked 20.5 percent year-on-year last month, accounting for a 0.79 percentage point increase in overall inflation.Of them, the prices of apples surged 88.2 percent, which was the highest surge since Korea began tracking prices in 1980.And this has affected the ruling bloc’s election campaigns negatively.According to a survey commissioned by the Hankook Ilbo, sister paper of The Korea Times, voters in six battleground regions picked soaring fruit and other consumer prices as the most important issues they will consider when casting their ballots for candidates, casting a gloomy outlook for the ruling side.The Hankook Ilbo survey was conducted by Hankook Research from March 24 to 26 on more than 500 voters in six battleground constituencies — Yeongdeungpo-A and Jung-Seongdong-A in Seoul; Hwaseong-B and Hanam-A in Gyeonggi Province; Buk-A in Busan and Gwangsan-B in Gwangju. Further details are available on the National Election Survey Deliberation 스포츠토토존 Commission’s website.

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