Vietnam power monopoly wants to raise prices yet again

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After making five price hikes since 2011 to ostensibly cover increasing costs but actually ending up with profits the last two years, Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) wants to again increase rates.

At a meeting with Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai over the weekend, executives from the state utility said the average power price should be raised to VND1,533.9 per kWh from VND1,498.8 (6.9 cents) now.

It compares with 12 cents in Thailand and 17 cents in Singapore.

Without explaining the reasons for its demand, EVN said it aimed to continue making profits this year.

It reported over VND4 trillion ($187.9 million) in profits in each of the last two years, but claimed its accumulated losses were VND38 trillion ($1.8 billion) in 2011 and VND19.8 trillion ($930.2 million) in 2012.

It expects to sell 125.5 billion kWh of power this year, meaning revenues will rise by VND4.3 trillion if the demand is approved.

In response to EVN's demand, Deputy PM Hai said the government has already allowed the company to adjust power prices in accordance with the market, but he also stressed that it needs to make its price calculations public and transparent.

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For the first time after many years of criticism over the lack of transparency, EVN reported its 2012 price calculations at a meeting last month.

The figures, despite being reportedly verified by the Ministry of Industry of Trade, raised the eyebrows of experts.

Vu Gia Phan, a representative of the Vietnam Association for Consumer Protection, said it was difficult to verify the figures' accuracy.

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