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DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s inflation rate fell slightly to 5.2% in February from 5.7% in the prior month, the lowest since the kingdom tripled VAT in July to 15% to boost state coffers hurt by lower oil prices and the coronavirus crisis.

The February rise was again mainly driven by increases in food and beverage prices, which recorded their highest annual increase at 11.2%, the General Authority for Statistics said. Food prices have a weight of 17% in the Saudi consumer basket. Transport prices increased by 9.8%, mainly due to a 9.9% rise in prices of purchase vehicles.

Annual inflation was 3.4% in 2020, but picked up in the second half of the year after the VAT hike.

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