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Public utility charges to jump this year

Updated: 2014-01-02 PM 8:28:51 (KST)
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Public utility charges are rising sharply from the start of the new year.
With the price of food also on the rise, the price hikes are almost certain to increase the financial burden on households.
Following hot on the heels of hikes in electricity and raw material prices, these increases are expected to occur over a wide range of fields.
Starting January 1st, the Korea Gas Corporation raised the price of natural gas by roughly 5.8 percent.
The price of gas for households went up by 5.7 percent, translating into an additional four U.S. dollars per household per month.
The industrial sector saw a 6.1 percent increase, and the service sector a 5.5 percent hike.
The hike follows a lift in electricity rates in November last year, by an average of 5.4 percent, in an attempt to curtail the nation's heavy electricity use.
Transportation rates are also set to go up this year.
The Korean Railroad Corporation is expected to increase rail prices by about five percent.
The city of Ulsan is also considering plans to raise bus fares by five percent, while the western port city of Incheon raised taxi fares by an average of 17 percent last month.
Post office parcel delivery service fees are also slated to rise starting next month.
The Korea Post said an additional dollar will be added for packages on average, while it is also expected to impose transaction fees.
The increase is the first in nine years, in a bid to make up for the deficit in postal services due to the reduction in post volume.
The price of food and beverages has also gone up.
Major confectionary companies, Lotte and Haitai, have or are about to raise prices by an average of 11 percent and 8.7 percent, respectively.
Coca Cola has also lifted the price of its soft drinks by 6.5 percent.
Some local bakeries will also raise prices on about a third of their products by an average of 7.3 percent starting January 15th.
Considering all the price hikes, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise to see that the Ministry of Strategy and Finance expects this year's inflation rate to be 2.3 percent, up from last year's 1.3 percent.
Kim Min-ji, Arirang News.

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