5.2% INFLATION FOR FIRST QUARTER OF 2002
Inflation, accumulated for the first three months of 2002 is already 5.2%, data of the National Statistics Institute (NSI) show. After record high inflation rates over the last four years were reported in January and February 2002, the negative trend continued in the third month of the year as well. Data for March showed that inflation rate was 0.8%, which is the highest level for that month since 1998. Inflation stood at 0.2% in March 1998; 1% deflation was registered year-on-year; 0.3% was the March inflation in 2000, and prices increased slightly - by 0.1 per cent - in the third month of 2001, Radka Kunova, Head of NSI's Index of Consumer Prices Department, spcified.Tobacco products again marked the highest price rise in March - by 14.6 per cent. These data already reflect the overall hike of cigarettes as of January 2002. In 26 of all the 27 former regional towns, monitored by the NSI, tobacco products were sold at the new higher prices in March, Ms Kunova commented. A 40.3% inflation for the first quarter of the year was accumulated by cigarettes alone. In fact, tobacco products were hiked by approximately the same percentage. This means that the rising prices of cigarttes will not influence inflation rate in the country over the next few months. The situation regarding the prices of medicines is similar. Statisticians reported an increase of their prices by 1.2% in March. Inflation, accumulated by the hike of medicines, totaled 21 per cent in the first quarter of the year. This means that the Value Adde Tax (VAT), imposed on this group of goods as of the beginning of 2002, has already been calculated in their prices, and they will neither be a pro-inflatory factor in the near future.