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BoE's Bailey accuses some retailers of overcharging as inflation bites

MFILE PHOTO: Governor of the Bank of England Andrew Bailey holds a press conference in London

LONDON (Reuters) -Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said there was evidence that some retailers are overcharging customers, adding to pressure on the sector as authorities struggle to bring down the highest inflation rate among the world's rich economies.

Bailey, who has faced criticism over the BoE's approach to addressing the surge in price growth, told the BBC that moves by regulators on retail prices, especially in the fuel market, would help to lower inflation.

"That's important. It helps us with inflation, but it's just fairer if these things are tackled. This is having very difficult effects," Bailey told the broadcaster in an interview shown on Thursday.

Britain's finance minister Jeremy Hunt met regulators last week to discuss ways to ensure consumers do not pay more than they should and those struggling to make payments receive help.

On Monday, competition regulators said drivers buying fuel at supermarkets last year paid more than they would have done otherwise due to major supermarkets increasing their margins.

In his interview with the BBC, Bailey reiterated previous comments that the BoE had to act now to bring down inflation or risk more pain from high interest rates in the future.

He declined to speculate on when borrowing costs might fall.

"I can't give you a date as to when interest rates start to come down because that really depends upon what happens over the period of time ahead, but getting inflation down is the most important thing that we have to do," Bailey said.

"It (inflation) has already started to come down and I expect ... quite a marked fall in inflation, we'll notice it. What we have to do is set the interest rate to get it all the way down to 2%."

British inflation hit a 41-year high of 11.1% in October 2022 and held at 8.7% in May, more than double the rate in the United States and much higher than in the euro zone.

(Reporting by William Schomberg and Muvija M in London and Abinaya Vijayaraghavan in Bengaluru; Editing by Tom Hogue and Christina Fincher)