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Kyrgyz President Criticizes Government Over Inflation

President Kurmanbek Bakiev addressing ministers today (official site) September 4, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev today criticized the government of Prime Minister Almaz Atambaev and the National Bank of Kyrgyzstan for failing to coordinate their policies.

Bakiev made the comments at a meeting with cabinet members to address Kyrgyzstan's economic situation and growing concerns over inflation.

Bakiev also said the government has failed to take measures to prevent price hikes on flour and bread.

After the meeting, Finance Minister Akylbek Japarov told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that the current inflation is partly due to an influx of investment into the country's economy.

"We were expecting this inflation rise because we solved the money shortage in the economy in the past two years. In the first half of this year alone, local commercial banks invested about 19 billion soms [$506.7 million] into our economy," Japarov said.

Japarov said a similar inflation trend in other countries has also impacted the Kyrgyz economy.

The finance minister also noted that retirement pensions will increase by 10 percent starting on October 1, offsetting the impact of rising prices for some.

A number of opposition lawmakers have criticized the government for failing to take preventive measures against price hikes in food staples, particularly flour and bread.

Some have proposed that financial aid for the most needy be allocated from the state budget, while others say wages must be raised to help people deal with the price increases.

In an interview with RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service today, Deputy Parliament Speaker Erkin Alymbekov said it will be impossible to deal with inflation and other economic issues without carrying out constitutional reforms and giving more power to the government.

(with material from agency reports)

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