Greater time gap between fuel price hikes: minister

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The interval between fuel price hikes from now until June will be longer than the currently regulated 10 days, Vietnam's Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh said at a meeting with the National Assembly Standing Committee on Friday.

The prices would be allowed to increase once in every 20-30 days instead of the 10 days Ninh said, adding fuel traders will be required to report very price adjustment to the government.

Earlier this month the Tuoi Tre newspaper quoted Nguyen Xuan Phuc, minister in charge of the PM's office, as saying that it was the government's shortcoming that it allowed fuel price hikes to take place "densely" in recent months.

In fact, traders had raised retail prices four times and decreased it once between last September and this February, the newspaper said.

Experts calculated fuel prices had gone up 8.76 percent over the period.

The adjustments included two increases this January and February after the traders were permitted in December to raise pump prices automatically without seeking government consent if world prices rose by 7 percent or more.

Asked about the wisdom of allowing the country's largest fuel trader Petrolimex to have a monopoly on the local market when its increase in fuel prices almost followed by other traders, Ninh told the Standing Committee they needed to consider many factors before coming to conclusion.

"Businesses are allowed to adjust prices within certain limits and on certain conditions, not of their own will," he stressed.

Ninh said recent inspections of Petrolimex, which holds 70 percent of the market share, showed that its price adjustments were made in accordance with regulations and the market happenings.

Also at the meeting, Ninh said no more hikes would be allowed this year in power and coal prices after a proposal to increase retail electricity prices by 6.8 percent from this month onwards was approved.

"We are keeping [power, fuel and coal prices] under control," the official said, noting that a rein was being kept on the country's consumer price index as well.

This month's CPI was up a bit because the government adjusted prices of some goods, he explained, adding that food prices had already gone down.

Ho Chi Minh City reported its CPI rose 0.78 percent from last month and 10.27 percent year on year, while Hanoi's General Statistics Office said the capital's index went up 0.75 percent compared to last month.

"We've got all necessary conditions and factors to restrict CPI to 7 percent as allowed by the National Assembly," Ninh said.

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