Customers shop at the Sài Gin Co.op supermarket. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HÀ NỘI (VNS) — The March consumer price index (CPI) increased by 0.57 per cent, compared to February, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported yesterday.
The March CPI also surged 1.69 per cent, compared to the same period last year, the office reported.
Vũ Thị Thu Thủy, GSO’s head of the Price Statistics Department, said that among the eleven groups of products and services, the highest increases were seen in medicine, health services, and education services, with a growth rate of 24.34 per cent and 0.66 per cent, respectively.
Meanwhile, prices dropped: 3.64 per cent for transportation services, 0.54 per cent for beverages and tobacco, 0.48 per cent for restaurant and catering services, 0.01 per cent for house and building material products, and 0.1 per cent for cultural, entertainment, and tourism services, Thủy said.
"The CPI exhibits normal trends. The annual March CPI tends to fall, as consumption and demand usually fall after the Lunar New Year (late January to early February)," Thủy said. "But this year’s March CPI soared, due to higher prices for medicine, health services, and education services."
Medicine and health service costs increased, following the Joint Circular No. 37/2015 / TTTLT-BYT-BTC dated October 29, 2015, issued the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Finance. The new rules went into effect on March 1st 2016. According to the Joint Circular, the cost of medicines and health services for insured patients rose by 32.9 per cent, contributing to future CPI growth.
The cost of education services was also raised, following Government Decree No68/2015/NĐ-CP, dated October2, 2015. This will also contribute to the CPI’s increase.
During the first quarter of this year, the CPI saw a slight increase of 1.25 per cent, compared to the same period last year, Thủy said. So far, the CPI has remained at a low level, helping the country to control inflation.
"The cost of medicines and health services will be raised again in July. And the cost of education services will be raised in September. So the December CPI should be higher," Thủy said.
Thủy said that the government should continue to direct the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade to control the market and monitor the prices of goods and services, especially major commodities, such as rice, oil, steel, and fertilisers.
In terms of the Social Cost of Living Index (SCOLI) estimated in provinces and cities throughout the country, the GSO said that Lai Châu is currently the province with the highest SCOLI of 100,3 per cent, compared to Hà Nội’s SCOLI of 100 per cent.
As for the high SCOLI in Lai Châu, Thủy saidthat Lai Châu is a northern mountainous province. So many goods and products cannot be manufactured locally but must be sourced from the delta regions. Difficult long distance travel conditions make transportation costs higher, which helps increase the SCOLI of the province.
The fragmented product distribution system in Lai Châu, together with high costs for the storage and preservation of goods, also raise the SCOLI of the province, Thủy said. — VNS