* Mantega says impact on IPCA index not yet clear
* Says retail and food executives committed to cut prices
BRASILIA, March 11 Inflation should ease more
rapidly in Brazil after the government eliminated federal taxes
on food staples and some toiletries, Finance Minister Guido
Mantega said on Monday.
After meeting with retail, supermarket and food industry
executives, Mantega last week said business leaders have
committed to cut the prices of consumer products including meat,
sugar and toilet paper.
"This should impact the inflation rate so that it falls
rapidly," Mantega told reporters in Brasilia on Monday. The
impact on the IPCA consumer price index is not yet clear, he
added, noting that analysts have forecast the tax breaks will
likely trim between 0.2 percent and 0.6 percent off the
President Dilma Rousseff's government is scrambling to tame
the quickening pace of inflation, which could undermine efforts
to boost a feeble economic recovery as well as her own
re-election bid next year.
The tax breaks could also delay an interest rate hike by the
central bank as policymakers grow increasingly worried about
inflation edging closer to the official ceiling of 6.5 percent.
Economists polled by the central bank expect it to raise the
benchmark Selic rate to 8 percent from the current 7.25 percent
Rousseff announced the tax breaks in a television address on
Friday, reaffirming her government commitment to fight inflation
in a country scarred by earlier bouts of hyperinflation.
She estimated that the tax breaks should ease the prices of
those staple goods by between 9.25 percent and 12.5 percent. A
supermarket association executive said on Monday, however, that
the impact would more likely be closer to 3 percent to 6