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The Ministry of Planning stopped publishing inflation figures in February over fears that outrage at the spiraling costs of goods could descend into unrest.

The government halted the monthly publication of the Consumer Price Index to averting the possibility of "disorder and turmoil," said San Sithan, the ministry's director general.

Publication would resume "when the inflation rate is down and the situation is calm," Sithan told the Post on June 20.

Inflation in January – the last month data was available – stood at over 18 percent, and prices have continued to rise since then, putting basic goods out of reach for many.

Fears of unrest over inflation have already struck several countries in the region, including neighboring Vietnam, where workers staged strikes earlier this year to protest the rising costs of goods.

Sithan said the ministry planned to resume publishing the CPI in three or four months, adding that an overhaul in the ministry's computer system also necessitated that the service be temporarily halted.

Khin Song, the deputy director of the ministry's general statistics department, confirmed that he had been ordered to suspend the publication of the CPI figures, but said that he had never been informed of the reason why.

"I was not given a reason; they just asked me to suspend its publication," Song told the Post on June 19, adding that at least 100 copies of the CPI were usually published each month, mainly for government officials.

An official at the ministry who requested anonymity said the suspension order was also aimed at preventing political parties from highlighting rising inflation during the campaign for general elections on July 27.

Independent economist Sok Sina, however, criticized the suspension.

"They should not suspend publication of the monthly CPI report; it is needed by the public so they can learn the general price of goods and by the government so it can enact policies to tackle inflation," Sina told the Post of June 20.



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