Kazakh Inflation Leaps on Food Prices

ReutersA vendor carrying a sack of sugar at a store in Almaty last week. Inflation in April hit an annual 19.1 percent.
ALMATY, Kazakhstan -- Kazakh inflation accelerated in April to an annual 19.1 percent, the highest rate since March 2000, as food prices increased.

April inflation in the Central Asian country rose 0.4 percentage points from a month earlier. Consumer prices rose 0.9 percent in the month, the State Statistics Agency said Sunday in an e-mailed statement.

Kazakhstan, the biggest energy producer in the former Soviet Union after Russia, is struggling to curb price growth as revenue from record oil prices pushes up wages, investment and economic growth. International Monetary Fund officials said during talks on April 28 in the capital, Astana, that Kazakh inflation "won't exceed 9.5 percent" this year, less than the government's target of 10 percent, the Economy Ministry said last month.

Food prices advanced a monthly 1 percent in April, led by an increase in the cost of flour and pasta, which rose 3.7 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively. Sugar rose 2.7 percent, while the price of potatoes fell 1.5 percent.

Service-industry prices increased a monthly 0.7 percent. Restaurants, hotels and health care all advanced 2 percent. Public transportation costs rose 1.4 percent, the agency said.

Nonfood prices rose 0.8 percent from March, led by a 6.5 percent increase in diesel fuel. The cost of gasoline advanced 3 percent, it said.