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Latvia’s inflation hits 16.7%, highest in EU

Latvia’s inflation in the past year has been the highest in the European Union, with average prices up 16.7% amid soaring food and fuel prices, the national statistics service said on Monday.

The former Soviet republic’s Central Statistical Bureau said food prices grew 11.6% during the period. The inflation rate in the small Baltic country, which joined the 27-nation bloc in 2004, was 15.1% year-on-year in January, and has now been on the rise for nine consecutive months. The worrying price surge in one of the EU’s poorest nations has prompted trade unions to start gathering signatures in support of a constitutional amendment allowing parliament to be dissolved by a referendum, the country’s Central Election Commission told RIA Novosti. If the necessary 145,000 signatures are gathered, draft changes to the constitution will be passed on to parliament. The statistics service said that although economic growth remained strong last year, at an impressive 10.2%, the country’s current account deficit has reached 24.8% of GDP, the highest in the EU. (