Bureau to withhold inflation data

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 January, 2008, 12:00am

The National Bureau of Statistics will not release politically sensitive consumer inflation data for last month when it unveils last year's key economic data today, an official statement said.

However, the bureau suggested when it released provincial data yesterday that the national consumer price index had remained high last month.

Bureau chief Xie Fuzhan will unveil key economic data for last year at a news briefing today, but the bureau said he would leave the details of last month's data to be released next month. Mainland media said that last month's inflation figures would be announced next month.

Last year, the bureau also delayed the scheduled announcement of monthly consumer prices data without explanation. It is not unusual for the central government to reschedule the release of key data for political reasons.

Inflation has topped the leadership's concerns in recent months, with consumer prices on the mainland hitting a decade high.

In a report on its website, the bureau said the CPI grew 5.9 per cent in the southwestern province of Yunnan last year, adding that this was 1.1 percentage points higher than the national average.

The statement implies that last year's CPI grew an average of 4.8 per cent. In the first 11 months of last year, the CPI rose 4.7 per cent.

Qian Wang, China economist with JPMorgan Chase Bank, said: 'The risk is that headline CPI will likely stay elevated in the coming months.'

Last week, the government moved to restrict price rises on key household commodities, including grain, edible oils, meat, milk, eggs and liquefied petroleum gas.

The government added fertiliser to its controlled list on Tuesday in a bid to hold down farmers' costs and ensure plentiful food stocks.

Fertiliser price controls will run through the spring planting season, the National Development and Reform Commission - the main economic planning agency - said on its website.

Also on Tuesday, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Ministry of Supervision warned that local governments and officials who failed to carry out measures to stabilise market prices would be severely punished.

In a statement, the party and government watchdogs called on local party and government officials to step up all possible measures 'to help the masses and promote social harmony'.

Zhu Xiaoliang, deputy head of the Ministry of Commerce's department of market operation regulation, warned prices of consumer goods would continue to rise.

'The rising costs of labour, land and raw materials will increase pressure on overall price levels in the first half of the year,' he said in interview that was broadcast live on the internet on Tuesday.