SEOUL-- The government said Thursday it will inspect fried chicken, hamburger and other food franchises, amid concerns that they may hike prices to offset the impact from a rise in minimum wage that takes effect this year.

Ko Hyoung-kwon, first vice finance minister, held a meeting with senior policymakers from relevant ministries earlier in the day during which they discussed inflationary pressures caused by higher food prices.

Ko told the meeting that the government needs to "preemptively cope with the possibility of expanding inflationary sentiment under the excuse of countering minimum wage."

Last July, the government decided to increase its minimum wage by 16 percent to 7,530 won (US$7.03) for 2018, marking the biggest jump in about two decades.

Although the minimum wage hike is one of the government's strategies to boost private consumption and narrow the income gap, small and medium-sized businesses expressed concerns about higher labor costs.

The government has earmarked some 3 trillion won to help reduce the burden on smaller firms which hire part-time workers.

Source: Yonhap News Agency