* CPI rose 3.01 percent in the 12 months through March
* The 12-month inflation rate is lowest in at least 2 years
* Food and soft drinks fueled inflation last month
QUITO, April 4 Ecuador's consumer prices rose
0.44 percent in March, accelerating their advance from 0.18
percent gain in the previous month, the country's official
statistics agency said on Thursday.
In the 12 months through March, consumer prices rose 3.01
percent, the lowest rate in at least two years. Inflation in the
12 months through February was 3.48 percent.
The government of socialist President Rafael Correa expects
annual inflation of around 5 percent this year.
Food prices, the sector that usually fuels inflation,
increased 0.77 percent in March, after decreasing 0.15 percent
the previous month.
The government plans to introduce price controls on 46 food
products in a bid to prevent speculation and tame inflation, but
the measure will not come into effect until late May.
Consumer prices in the Andean country rose 4.16 percent in
2012r, less than the 5.41 percent recorded in 2011, but above
the 3.33 percent seen in 2010.
High oil revenues and increased tax collection have allowed
Correa to boost state spending on infrastructure and welfare
projects in recent years, which has bolstered the economy.
However, economic growth slowed to 5 percent in 2012 from 8
percent in 2011, hit by slower expansion in the oil and
Growth is expected to slow again this year due to global
economic woes and the idling of Ecuador's largest refinery,
which will be partially shut down for several months for an