Vietnam may raise power prices 10-15 percent: official

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Vietnam may raise electricity prices by more than 10 percent next year, but tariffs for poor households will remain unchanged, according to Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue.

Officials have reviewed all input costs and the projected production cost for electricity in 2012 would be VND1,242 per kilowatt-hour, or 4.6 percent higher than the current retail price, Hue said.

Power prices will be raised next year, but the increase will be "restrained," he told the legislature in Hanoi on Thursday.

Electricity bills for low-income families will be the same, and the government will continue to provide subsidies for them, he said.

Speaking to the press on Friday, Hue added that the hike for retail prices will be more than 10 percent, but will not be higher than this year's increase of 15.6 percent.

EVN's losses

Responding to lawmakers' questions about the performance of state-utility Electricity of Vietnam, also known as EVN, Hue said the group had losses of VND23.5 trillion (US$1.12 billion) last year, including VND8.04 trillion from production and sales, and VND15.46 trillion caused by fluctuations in the exchange rate.

"The audit report of the company shows that some of EVN's investments in non-core sectors were profitable, while some led to losses, but they were not factored in the loss of VND8.04 trillion," he said.

Hue said the situation has "much improved" this year. Losses could ease to VND3.54 trillion this year, excluding those incurred due to exchange rate fluctuations, he said.

The power utility plans to divest completely from non-core businesses, Hue told the National Assembly.

"I believe the divestment will be faster with EVN compared to other state enterprises. It's because there is a plan already, and we have also advised the company to [divest]," he said

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