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Inflation on Goods Eases, But Just a Little

Inflation pressure has eased on Cambodia, but only a little, as the prices of international commodities and basic foods has slightly decreased, economists say.

Government officials and analysts said the decrease, brought on by lower fuel prices and other reduced costs, was still not enough.

“The price of commodities has a little bit reduced, not much. So we are trying to reduce it further,” said Hang Chuon Narong, general director of the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The inflation rate was 17 percent in November, down from 30 percent the month before, he said.

The government would like to see an inflation rate of 9 percent in early 2009, he said.

The inflation rate can only be reduced if the price of fuel, which heavily influences commodities, continues its fall on international markets, said Kang Chandararoth, head of the Cambodia Institute of Development Study.

Crude oil on Saturday was down to $48 per barrel, compared to $147 per barrel in July. In Cambodia, a liter of fuel cost around 3,500 riel, less than $1, compared to 5,700, around $1.40, in August.

The price of high-quality jasmine rice was down to $40 per 50 kilogram sack in most markets, while the lower-quality rice consumed by most Cambodians was around $21 per 50 kilograms.

Vegetables in the markets followed the trend, by about 1,500 riel, or $0.37, in November, said market retailer Phay Sokhen.

“Now there is no more rain, so the price of vegetables has reduced a little bit,” she said. “It depends on the climate, not the price of gasoline.”

Fish prices had decreased by about 2,000 riel per kilogram, fish mongers said Saturday, but mostly due to the season.

Meanwhile, commodities imported from neighboring countries, especially Thailand, were down by around 1 percent in November, thanks to a recession of the Thai baht.

Pork remained the same, around 16,000 riel, or $4, per kilogram, and chicken held steady at 18,000 riel, or $4.50, per kilogram.

“I bought expensive, so I have to sell expensive too,” said Hing Chantha, a chicken retailer at Central Market.

Many Phnom Penh residents, from housewives to students to factory and construction workers said they had seen little benefit so far from a lowered inflation rate. Prices had dropped, they said, but not enough to make a difference.

Cambodian People’s Party lawmaker Cheam Yiep said the price of products always increased when fuel prices were high, but not reduced when the fuel price fell.

“Some business people are greedy,” he said. “Although some products have reduced their prices, they won’t follow it.”