HA NOI — The nation's consumer price index (CPI) in February increased 1.37 per cent over last month, raising the index to 2.38 per cent so far this year, according to the General Statistics Office.
From February 2011 to this month, the figure rose by 16.44 per cent.
Nguyen Duc Thang, director of the office's CPI Department, said the index rose significantly this month due to increased water, electricity and gas prices, and large demand during the Tet (Lunar New Year) holidays which caused essential commodity prices to remain high.
Prices in the restaurant and eating-drinking service group, which represents more than one-third of the CPI goods basket, grew up to 2.11 per cent while the housing and building materials group expanded 2.47 per cent.
As US dollar prices fell by 0.41 per cent, gold prices soared by 3.27 per cent.
Several other major groups, including beverages and tobacco, clothing, and entertainment and tourism, also drove up the index with prices increasing by less than 1 per cent.
In spite of the news, Thang said this month's CPI was 1.2-3.6 per cent lower than it had been in the same period during the last few years and "this is a bright sign for this year's general target of controlling inflation to single-digit level."
He said the goal was attainable if a number of things were accomplished: if enterprises could solve their difficult production and business conditions while cutting costs and prices; if market prices and goods speculation were tightly controlled at every phase of circulation; and if intermediaries were minimised in distribution networks.
Nguyen Tien Thoa, director of the Ministry of Finance's price management department, told Thoi bao Tai chinh Viet Nam (Viet Nam Financial Times) that global prices would tend to ease this year and have a positive impact on domestic prices.
CPI would also be impacted by electricity, coal and petroleum price adjustments that would be aimed at meeting market prices, which would continue to be carried out this year, he said.
Thoa said price adjustments to these commodities were compulsory but should be implemented at suitable times to avoid causing a domino effect that could push up the prices of other goods.
He urged authorities to take comprehensive measures to balance the supply and demand of goods in order to spur competition and manage financial and monetary policies in accordance with Government Resolution No 01/2012 in order to meet this year's inflation control target.
Appropriate taxes, interest rates and foreign exchange rates were needed, he specified.
Ha Noi and HCM City reported significant CPI increases earlier this week, at 1.45 per cent and 1.32 per cent, respectively. — VNS