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'According to the Russian state statistics committee, bread prices rose by 30% on average in 2003
MOSCOW, January 29. 'According to the Russian state statistics committee, bread prices rose by 30% on average in 2003, while the inflation rate was just 12%,' Andrei Sizov, general director of SovEkon analytical information centre, announced today in an interview with Echo Moscow radio station. He said that every regional administration has ways of controlling bread prices. 'Consumer prices only rose by 30% thanks to these measures. If such measures did not exist, bread prices could possibly have doubled,' Mr Sizov stressed. 'The cost of wheat rose by 2.5 times because there was a bad harvest in 2003 due to the weather conditions and also because government policy does not provide for the eventuality of a bad harvest,' Mr Sizov explained. He also said that it was clear by the middle of 2003 that rising grain export could leave a shortage on the domestic market. As a result government grain reserves only come to about 1.5 million tons. 'If the government had twice as much grain in reserve the domestic food market would be far more stable,' he claims. He mentioned that Russians eat about 120 kilograms of bread a year on average and it is part of most families' staple diet. 'The current rise in bread prices is being accompanied by an even faster rise in the prices on dairy foods and meat products. The situation with dairy foods and meat products is a lot worse than it was a few years ago,' he stressed. 'The quotas on the import of poultry and meat are making the situation worse,' Mr Sizov warned. He also pointed out that since March 2003 wholesale prices on poultry have risen by 70%, beef prices have risen by 20% and pork prices have risen by 22%. In Mr Sizov's opinion, this situation has come about because of the government's bad system for regulating prices. 'It was clear in August 2003 that there was a growing food shortage in Russia. However, instead of analyzing the situation and taking urgent measures we heard confident declarations that Russia will send 'Ukraine as much as it needs,' and that Russia will send grain to Moldova and Armenia and will export a further 5 million tons on top of that,' he said. He also warned that consumer bread prices could rise by another 30% this year, which will have a negative impact on the overall inflation rate
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