HA NOI — The country's consumer price index increased by 2.09 per cent in February against the previous month due to the high prices of most goods after Tet (lunar new year), announced the General Statistics Office (GSO) yesterday.
February CPI rose by 12.31 per cent over the same period last year and up 3.87 per cent against last December.
Director of GSO's Pricing Department Nguyen Duc Thang attributed the high CPI to greater consumption during the Lunar New Year.
He said, however, that February CPI was also impacted by other factors including the Government decision on a minimum wage increase, high bonuses for labourers and high prices for many goods during the holiday in response to changes in the exchange rate and strong fluctuation of gold and US dollar prices.
Restaurants and catering services increased the sharpest with 3.65 per cent, accounting for nearly 40 per cent of the goods basket, while prices of food and foodstuff were up 1.51 per cent and 4.53 per cent, respectively.
Beverages and tobacco followed at 2.14 per cent, garment and footwear were up 1.38 per cent while prices rose 1.24 per cent for entertainment, tourist and cultural services and 1.01 per cent for transport services.
Post and telecoms services continued to fall by 0.01 per cent.
In February, the domestic gold price fell 0.35 per cent against January and slipped 0.3 per cent against last December. However, the gold price has still increased by 35.02 per cent this year over the same period last year.
The price for US dollars also saw a slight increase at 0.94 per cent against January and 0.62 per cent against last December.
Still going up
Since March 1, many staple goods will increase in price by 5-15 per cent, according to supermarkets in HCM City.
Suppliers of textiles and garments, household appliances, foodstuff, milk and confectionery have told supermarkets that their prices will be going up.
The prices of De Nhat, Hao Hao and Omachi instant noodles will jump by VND5,000-10,000 per carton; cooking oil of all kinds will go up to VND40,000-43,000 per litre, an increase of 9-10 per cent.
Huynh Huu Tuan, manager of Binh Thanh Citimart supermarket, said that 30-40 per cent of suppliers and importers would increase prices.
The prices are expected to go up in the near future because of the new US dollar-dong exchange rate, gold prices, raw materials and bank interest rates.
Although big stores like Co.opMart and BigC have met with suppliers to ensure reasonable prices and maintain competitiveness, the prices will inevitably rise.
Nguyen Thanh Nhan, general director of Saigon Co.op Mart, said it would possibly use new suppliers, while Duong Thi Quynh Trang, director of external relations at Big C supermarket chain, said they would compare prices and negotiate the final price with suppliers.
Nguyen Thi Hong Huong, general director of Vinatex Mart, said the company had paid nearly VND100 billion (US$4.76 million) in advance to suppliers to maintain stable prices until the end of March, but prices would go up 5-10 per cent after that.
Some prices are going up every day. For example, the price of a side of pork is VND70,000-72,000 per kg; beef filet, VND140,000-160,000 per kg; shrimp VND100,000-110,000 per kg; and squid VND100,000-120,000 per kg.
Many milk shops said some brands such as Friso and Dutch Lady had increased prices by 5-10 per cent.
Vu Quoc Tuan, head of external relations at Nestle Viet Nam Ltd Co, said the company had asked the Ministry of Finance to approve the price hike of Lactogen milk.
The price would increase by 10 per cent by the end of February if approved.
Pham Ngoc Chau, deputy general director of Hanco Foodstuff Joint Stock Co, said the company would raise prices on powdered milk by 10 per cent.
Many milk agents said currently powdered milk prices had increased by VND10,000-25,000 because of limited supply, with many distributors out of stock of items.
Nguyen Van Minh, an owner of milk agents in District 3, said the discount on milk products of 5-7 per cent to agents had been eliminated, and retailers would have to pass along the price increase to customers.
According to economists, the State should strengthen price inspections to determine whether traders were taking advantage of the US dollar-dong exchange rate. — VNS