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P.M. BRIEFING : British Inflation Declines 0.2%

March 23, 1990| From Times wire services

LONDON — British inflation, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's public enemy No. 1, edged down in February to an annual rate of 7.5% but the trend was likely to be short-lived, government figures showed today.

The retail price index, Britain's main measure of inflation, fell from 7.7% in January.

But the underlying rate, which excludes home loan repayments, rose to its highest level in seven years.

"The position will worsen noticeably before it improves," Chancellor of the Exchequer John Major said earlier this week in a budget speech.

Financial markets have said the budget proposal is not tough enough to tackle inflation and the rate is bound to go up in the next few months as the latest round of home loan increases and rises in excise duties make their impact.

Major said the local government community charge, a "poll tax" on every adult which has brought thousands of protesters onto the streets, would add 1% to the retail price index next month.

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