Covid-19 epidemic risks consumer price surge

08:58 | 04/03/2020 Economy- Society

(VEN) - The Ministry of Finance foresees difficulties in keeping the consumer price index (CPI) growth under four percent in 2020, warning that prices must be maintained at a stable level from the first quarter of the year to reach the target.

covid 19 epidemic risks consumer price surge

Data of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) show that the January 2020 CPI was 1.23 percent higher than in December 2019 and was the highest January growth in the past seven years. The figure calls into question the feasibility of attaining the four percent annual inflation cap set by the National Assembly.

The high January CPI growth was attributed to increases in food prices (pork prices soared 8.29 percent compared to December 2019, for example) and transportation costs. In addition, the price of such commodities as medical masks and antiseptic hand wash skyrocketed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

The Ministry of Finance said price management will face challenges in 2020, and prices of goods, especially essential commodities, must be kept stable early from the first quarter of the year. The ministry said localities might need to require businesses to declare set prices of goods for which there is growing demand due to the Covid-19 epidemic in order to control goods prices. Sufficient supply of medicines must also be ensured during and after the epidemic, the ministry said.

Market management authorities nationwide have been carrying out inspections to detect price gouging and speculative buying of medical masks and antiseptic hand wash. The ministry said Vietnam will need to procure or produce more medical equipment and devices necessary for the control of the Covid-19 epidemic and control their prices. The Ministry of Finance proposed that the Prime Minister assign the Ministry of Health to preside over the import of masks, and instruct the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to encourage international organizations and overseas Vietnamese to provide assistance in Covid-19 epidemic control.

According to the Ministry of Finance, if pork prices decrease 10 percent in February, the average CPI growth will only be 5.67 percent in the first two months of 2020 compared to the same period of 2019 and 4.59 percent for the entire year; and if the price decreases an additional 8-10 percent in March, the 2020 CPI growth will only be 4.22 percent. These projections require immediate measures to bring down the price of pork in February and March.

The Ministry of Finance has instructed ministries, sectors and localities to work with market management authorities and financial inspectors in finding and sanctioning those not publicizing prices or not selling at listed prices, and illegally increasing the price of goods.

Lan Ngoc