Korea will increase its monitoring of a price trend in the private service sector as price hikes in the segment could directly hit the livelihoods of ordinary citizens, who are bearing the brunt of tough economic conditions, the finance ministry said Friday.
"In that a large portion of household expenditures is spent on buying private services, we should look into price trends in the sector for ordinary people," the ministry said in a press release after holding an anti-inflation meeting.
In a related move, the ministry added that it will establish teams tasked with monitoring service prices in a total of 16 cities and provinces as part of efforts to help the central government's push to keep prices under control.
The measure is the latest in a series of the government-led anti-inflation efforts amid worries that price hikes could dampen consumption in Asia's fourth-largest economy, and eventually undercut the country's overall economic growth.
South Korea's consumer prices, a major gauge of inflation, rose 3.1 percent in February from a year earlier, slowing from a 3.4 percent gain in January. They still gained 0.4 percent compared to a month ago.
Despite the on-year fall last month, rising international crude oil prices keep boding ill for overall inflation here.
The tensions brewing over Iran's suspected nuclear weapons program, in particular, could drive up fuel prices for South Korea, which depends heavily on imports for its oil needs.
The ministry echoed such worries, saying that the Iran issue could send oil prices sharply higher down the road while causing disruption to the country's fuel supply. (Yonhap)