Vietnam's Ministry of Finance has shrugged off responsibility for the hikes in the prices of several imported formula milk brands this month, saying it does not manage retail prices.
Nguyen Anh Tuan, deputy head of the ministry's Price Management Department, said none of the businesses had registered with his agency for the price hikes, according to the Ministry of Information and Communication's website.
The ministry was only responsible for supervising producers and importers, while city and provincial Departments of Finance are responsible for overseeing retail prices, he said.
"As the price increase happened at the lower level, the ministry could not control it."
Quynh Anh of Hanoi said she was surprised recently when she bought Enfakid formula and found the price of a 400 gram tin to be VND10,000 higher.
While a VND10,000 hike may not be much, the price had increased by VND40,000 this year, meaning baby formula now accounted for a third of her income.
"Maybe I have to think about switching to a cheaper brand that suits my income," she said.
Other milk powder brands like Similac, Friso, and EnfaGold have also increased prices by VND10,000-15,000.
Tuan said local authorities have started inspecting retail prices and would report to the ministry.
"Based on the reports, the department will take measures to regulate prices of this product," he said.
Data from the Ministry of Industry and Trade shows that formula prices in Vietnam increase even when the prices of imported raw materials, especially from Europe and Australia, fall.
Just last month raw material prices in the two markets dropped by US$25-225 a ton to their lowest levels this year.