BRASILIA May 6 A slowdown in rising food prices
in Brazil will help inflation ease in May and stay at a
comfortable level in June, Finance Minister Guido Mantega said
In a interview with state-run broadcaster TV Brasil, Mantega
said that inflation slowed in April and that the government will
keep working to keep inflation under control.
"We had lower inflation in April and in May it will be even
lower than in April. In June, we will be at a more settled
level" Mantega said.
A surge in food prices caused by a drought in key rural
states in Brazil's southeast pushed 12-month inflation to 6.15
percent in March, close to the ceiling of the official target
range between 2.5 percent and 6.5 percent. The national
statistics institute is scheduled to release April inflation
figures on Friday.
Many economists expect annual inflation to pierce that
ceiling in June or July due in part to a spike in the cost of
meals, hotel rooms and air flights during the month-long soccer
World Cup in Brazil starting on June 12.
Mantega said it is not possible at the moment to set a lower
inflation target as some opposition presidential candidates have
proposed ahead of the October election.
Earlier on Tuesday, central bank chief Alexandre Tombini
also said that food inflation will ease in coming months,
hinting that policymakers may be done raising interest rates.
The bank has raised its benchmark Selic rate by 375 basis
points since April last year to 11 percent.
Although Mantega said the government has supported the rate
hikes to battle inflation, he also called on private banks to
disburse more consumer credit to bolster economic activity.
(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Kim Coghill)