NA Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân speaks at the NA Standing Committee' 34th session.— VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — The recent hike in power prices and public concern over climbing electricity bills dominated discussions of the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Wednesday.
NA Chairwoman Nguyễn Thị Kim Ngân said it was necessary to review the electricity price adjustment to ensure strict compliance with the Prime Minister’s decision despite the fact that the framework and roadmap for power price increases had been approved by the PM office.
In addition to asking the Government inspectors to study the latest power price adjustment, it was the Government who had to explain the electricity price rise, Ngân said during a discussion on the Government’s reports evaluating socio-economic performance in the first months of 2019.
Lê Thi Nga, chairwoman of the NA’s Judicial Committee, said the Government reports mentioned figures on economic development but didn’t address the emerging social issues that have drawn public attention.
“The public is still sceptical about the transparency of electricity management and EVN’s [Electricity of Việt Nam] operations. The public needs a clear explanation from the government on the issue," she said.
While the public welcomed the Prime Minister’s directive on the launch of investigations over the price hike, she said, there needs to be thorough explanations for the reason and the different pricing scheme as well as ensuring market elements given that the Vietnamese electricity market is monopolistic.
While delivering an assessment, Vũ Hồng Thanh, chairman of NA’s Economic Committee, said the increase in electricity prices, petrol prices and medical services were inflation risks, which might adversely affect stability and growth of the country’s economy.
Many NA deputies have suggested the Government evaluate and report on the basis of the increase in petrol and electricity prices and their impact on the consumer price index (CPI), as well as socio-economic aspects, he said.
Electricity prices were raised by 8.36 per cent to VND1,864 (8.03 US cents) from March 20, according to the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT).
However, many households complained about sudden increases in their electricity bills, which doubled or tripled in April compared with previous months.
The EVN said the surge in bills was partially due to the increase in electricity prices. There was also unusually hot weather that caused power consumption to spike, resulting in higher bills.
Delivering a government report on socio-economic performance in the first months of 2019, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng said that GDP growth rate in the first quarter of 2019 was estimated at 6.79 per cent. This was considered a success given the unfavourable global economy.
African swine fever was the biggest challenge to the livestock industry, which has a significant impact on the growth of the industry, income and life of farmers.
Dũng called on ministries, agencies and localities to focus on removing difficulties for businesses by creating favourable conditions for them and adopt drastic measures to prevent diseases in poultry with a view to stabilise production and achieve the target set for this year.
Earlier, the NA Standing Committee’s 14th tenure opened its 34th session under the chair of NA Chairwoman Ngân.
Addressing the session, the last before the NA’s 7th session, Chairwoman Ngân said the Standing Committee must review the remaining items on the planned agenda of the NA’s 7th session and examine the preparations for the session.
The NA Standing Committee is scheduled to continue discussing the draft law on amendments and supplements to some articles of the Law on Public Investment, and start debating the draft Labour Code (revised), and Việt Nam’s joining the International Labour Organisation’s Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention No.98.
In the afternoon session, the NA Standing Committee gave opinions on the 2017 State budget settlement; considering the allocation of funds from the State budget to the local budgets for road management and maintenance and the foreign capital supplement of 2019 state budget estimates for the central province of Hà Tĩnh. VNS