HA NOI — The country's consumer price index (CPI) in March rose only 0.16 per cent over last month, raising the index to 2.55 per cent so far this year, said the General Statistics Office (GSO).
Nguyen Duc Thang, director of the office's CPI Department, said the index has so far seen a low growth rate in the first quarter of this year. The index rose 1 per cent in January and 1.37 per cent in February.
This month's figure, however, reflected a year-on-year increase of 15.95 per cent.
Thang said that the trend of growth had persisted due to the 10 per cent increase in petrol prices and the 8.58 per cent hike in gas prices.
He added that some provinces in the nation's central region raised their tuition fees by around 130 per cent at high schools and more than 13 per cent at vocational training schools.
Of the 11 goods categories, only post and telecommunications services and restaurant and food service groups continued to fall 0.02 and 0.83 per cent, respectively. The others increased by between 0.07 to 2.31 per cent.
Housing and construction materials saw the highest growth rate during the month, while the lowest increase was recorded by drinks and cigarettes.
"Restaurant services, which includes food and foodstuff accounting for 40 per cent of the market basket for CPI calculation, experienced a decrease of 0.83 per cent. This has contributed to curbing the CPI growth rate this month," he said.
Food prices this month dropped by 1.25 per cent over last month, mainly because of the continuous fall in rice prices in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta region and decreasing rice exports.
In addition, demand for pork meat has decreased as consumers worry about harmful chemicals.
The prices of gold and the US dollar in the domestic market this month has been lower than previous months, decreasing 0.44 and 0.63 per cent respectively.
The director said the CPI would rise again next month due to the increase in petroleum and gas prices, as well as unpredictable situations in world markets.
However, economists said the CPI this month and the rate of growth in this year's first quarter have been considered to be slow.
GSO's statistics showed that the CPI this month had the lowest growth rate in the last 20 months.
The CPI in the first three months this year was far lower than in the same period of the past eight years.
The rate could help the country meet the target of cutting inflation down to a single-digit level and providing a year-on-year CPI increase of less than 10 per cent.
The economists added the Government has continued to tighten monetary and financial policies, while State budget overspending was at a low 8.4 per cent.
In addition, public investment and consumer spending were also lower than the same period last year.
The CPI market basket in Viet Nam currently contains 11 items, including food, restaurant services, beverages, textiles, medical services, transportation, post and communications, educational services, electricity and construction materials. — VNS