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The Ministry of International Trade and Industry on Friday authorized new power rates that will reduce monthly electricity bills for an average four-person family by some 290 yen.The nation’s 10 power utilities will introduce the new rates, which are 3.27 percent to 6.70 percent lower than current rates, starting from Feb. 10, the ministry said. The Economic Planning Agency estimates the rate cuts will effectively lower consumer prices by 0.11 percent and wholesale prices by 0.18 percent.The move is meant to be the first step toward achieving internationally competitive electricity costs by 2001, part of the government’s economic structural reform. Speaking at a news conference Friday, MITI Minister Mitsuo Horiuchi welcomed cost reduction efforts by respective power utilities and called for greater efforts toward 2001.

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