by Le Quynh Anh
HA NOI — The Government's Energy Efficiency Office has become bogged down with applications for energy labels.
This means that many manufacturers and importers of electronic home appliances and industrial equipment may not be able to meet the deadlines to have energy labels stuck on their products by the January 1 deadline. The labels aim to help save energy consumption.
Many traders have sent applications to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT), which is responsible for co-ordinating the labelling programme, but the response has been slow.
Tran Trung Kien, director of Benny Viet Nam Electronic Company, an importer of home appliances, said his company sent in requests for labels for two imported models in February, but had heard nothing since.
"We know that the ministry's Energy Efficiency Office has to handle the labelling requests for about 3,000 models. I am sceptical they will be able to do that by January 1 given that it couldn't issue two labels for my company," Kien said.
To Dinh Thai, co-ordinator of the United Nations Development Programme on energy efficiency and labelling, said that although the scheme had been running at the pilot mode since 2010, only three fan makers and three light-bulb makers had received energy labels.
Thai said a remarkable number of application forms were "stuck" at the Energy Efficiency Office.
Kien said it was possible just a handful of manufacturers would receive energy labels in time. "Most might not be able to sell goods for quite a time or some of them may even resort to using fake labels," he said.
When Viet Nam News asked the Energy Efficiency Office several times for an explanation of the slow progress, it declined to comment.
According to the MoIT, enterprises using the energy labels would be offered free publicity campaigns by the ministry or receive a 30 per cent discount on the testing fee.
Kien said that manufacturing energy-efficient products called for big investment in technology and research, which was always a big hurdle, let alone in the current economic situation. In addition, the local electrical-goods market was price-oriented.
Viet Nam is following in the footsteps of other countries in implementing energy labelling, but it must boost demand for these rated products.
"If that happens, manufacturers will start making cleaner products not because they are afraid that they will be fined, but because they will lose profits if they don't," Kien said.
He said the energy-efficiency would only become firmly rooted when consumers saw that energy efficiency on electrical goods was as important as expiration dates on foodstuffs.
In the meantime, energy-efficient manufacturers have called for preferential policies to help them drive down production costs.
According to Government Decision No 51/2011, from January, those who fail to comply with the new labels can be fined VND50 million (US$2,400).
Statistics from the MoIT indicate that the consumption of lighting power in Viet Nam is 25 per cent higher than the world average.
Replacing wasteful light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent lamps, could save the nation up to VND7 trillion (US$333 million) a year, the ministry said on its National Energy Efficiency Programme website. — VNS