The Consumer Price Index (CPI) this month increased strongly by 1.74 per cent against December mainly due to food price hikes, ranking second after the record growth of 2.38 per cent in January 2008, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported yesterday.
Do Thi Ngoc, the GSO expert, attributed the growth rate to the high demand during the solar new year, Christmas and lunar new year. She also noted that inflation has been fuelled by rising input costs of a series of necessary goods.
Food and food-related products have witnessed a strong surge at 2.47 per cent, directly impacting the CPI this month as these commodities account for 40 per cent of the total CPI market basket.
Food and beverage prices, especially of pork, cooking oil, milk and vegetables and fruit, have increased sharply and are likely to continue to rise into February, she said.
The price of pork jumped strongly by 4.98 per cent against December to VND90,000 (US$4.3). The prices of cooking oil, confectionery products and milk increased by 7.4 per cent, 3.2 per cent and 2 per cent, respectively.
"Cold weather in the northern and central regions of the country has caused the death of cattle and livestock and the loss of fruits and vegetables. Consequently, there has been a supply and demand, causing further price hikes," she said.
Housing and construction materials, including power,water and fuel, ranked second in industries affecting the CPI with the expansion rate at 1.33 per cent. These commodities comprise 10 per cent of the total basket used to calculate CPI.
Education, ranked third, posted record growth at 2.89 per cent due to rising school fees in most cities and provinces.
Also of note, the cold weather has boosted demand for warm clothing, thus causing the prices of textiles and garments to jump 1.81 per cent.
Gas prices rose 2.55 per cent. Household goods and appliances, transportation, tourism, and cultural and entertainment services all showed less than 1 per cent growth.
In contrast, gold and dollar prices dropped. The gold price stands at VND35.6 million per tael, edging down 0.05 per cent from December, but still rising by nearly 34 per cent against January last year.
The cost of the US dollar has been inching down 0.32 per cent against previous months to hover around VND21,000.
Stable growth for HCM City
HCM City achieved stable socio-economic growth in the first month of the year, officials reported at a regular monthly review conference held yesterday.
Le Hoang Quan, head of the People's Committee, said industrial output in January was worth VND54 trillion (US$2.7 billion), a 12.9 per cent growth year on year.
Garments, metal, food, rubber, and chemicals saw the strongest growth. The city's exports excluding crude oil were worth US$1.26 billion, a 16 per cent increase.
Exports by domestic businesses rose 16 per cent and by foreign firms, 15 per cent.
In the first 20 days of January, investment licences were issued to more than 1,200 firms with a total capital of VND10.3 trillion (US$500 million) and 14 FDI projects worth US$43 million. Six foreign firms also increased their investment by US$7 million.
Quality, not quantity
Quan urged officials to work to ensure economic stability, curb inflation, and focus on quality rather than quantity when it came to investment.
In January the consumer price index rose 1.01 per cent, driven mainly by food and other consumer goods in demand ahead of Tet. The city began a price-stabilisation programme in the third quarter of 2010.
Businesses that signed up for it meet 30 per cent of the city's demand, and have more than 2,100 outlets around the city selling rice, sugar, meat, egg, processed foods, and vegetables at controlled prices. Supply of these items exceed demand by 50-100 per cent, precluding the risk of any shortage.
Around 500 mobile food stalls have been set up at industrial parks and suburban districts.
Quan called on city authorities and enterprises to take care of workers, whom he described as "treasures," during Tet.
With cold weather blanketing the north, more and more foreign visitors have been arriving in HCM City which has welcomed more than 310,000 people, a 10 per cent increase.
Almost half of them have been overseas Vietnamese.
The sector reported revenues of VND2.2 billion (US$110,000), an increase of 16 per cent.
The city leader urged the tourism industry to prepare well to welcome foreign tourists more of whom are expected to visit during Tet.