|Consumers have raised concerns over the significant increase in April's electricity bills. (Photo: hanoimoi.vn)
According to a document sent by the Government Office, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has asked the Government Inspectorate to work with the Ministries of Industry and Trade, and Finance to study the price calculation method of electricity bills and their collection.
The inspectorate and the two ministries should clarify whether the electricity price hike was right or wrong and report to the PM by next month.
The document said the PM’s decision follows many households complaining about sudden and significant increases in their electricity invoices for April.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thang Hai said the ministry shared people’s concerns about the rise in their electricity bills last month.
However, the ministries had reviewed all effects of the increase on people’s lives and the CPI with the participation of the General Statistics Office (GSO) before submitting the power increase to the Government for consideration.
He added that the ministry asked Vietnam Electricity (EVN) to resolve all complaints from people about the power hike.
“If the different pricing scheme is wrong, EVN have to apologise and immediately correct the issue,” he said.
However, EVN said that the surge in bills was only partially due to the increase in electricity prices. It was unusually hot weather that caused power consumption to spike, resulting in higher bills.
The prices of many essential goods and services have risen sharply following the recent hikes in electricity and petrol prices.
In the year to date, oil prices have increased four times by a total of 4,591 VND per litre for RON 95 gasoline and 4,418 VND for E5 gasoline.
According to farm produce wholesale markets in HCM City, the increase in fuel prices inevitably led to higher transportation costs of fruits and vegetables from elsewhere to the city. At traditional markets, the prices of most goods have gone up.
Nguyen Thanh Chau, chief of Thai Binh market in district 1, said higher electricity and fuel prices pushed up the prices of vegetables and fruits by thousands of VND per kilogramme in recent days.
A trader in Nguyen Tri Phuong market in district 10 said the price of Da Lat carrots had gone up to 30,000 VND from 27,000-28,000 VND per kilogramme late last month.
The price of small spring onions had risen from 40,000-42,000 VND to 45,000 VND, she said.
While she used to offer customers buying vegetables some coriander for free, now she had to charge for it, she said.
Now she had to pay nearly 7 million VND (300 USD) daily compared to over 6 million VND just after the Lunar New Year in early February and 5-5.5 million VND earlier this year to buy the same quantity of goods at wholesale markets, she added.
Bui Van Quan, Chairman of the HCM City Cargo Transportation Association, said with oil prices rising several times recently, transport companies had been forced to negotiate freight rates with customers.
Lam Dai Vinh, Director of Lam Vinh Transportation Co., Ltd, told Thanh Nien (Young People) newspaper that container freight rates in HCM City would increase by 15-20 percent soon.
According to Vinh, fuel accounts for 40 percent of transport costs, and the price of petrol has soared this year.
The rise in electricity prices has increased the prices of a number of other goods such as tyres and lubricants, affecting transport companies.
“Input costs have increased relentlessly, forcing enterprises to adjust freight rates. If customers agree to the new rates we will offer them services, but otherwise not. We cannot afford further losses.”
The director of a cargo transport company said a truck transporting goods from HCM City to Nha Trang and returning would consume around 360 litres of petrol.
The petrol price hikes and the increases in prices of other items like lubricants and tyres due to the impact of petrol and oil increases had increased the cost of a round trip on the route by 1-1.5 million VND, he added.
According to the General Statistics Office, the consumer price index (CPI) has risen by 2.71 percent year-on-year this year.
In April, it rose 0.31 percent, representing a 2.93 percent increase year-on-year.
Of the basket of goods and services that make up the CPI, in April transportation saw the highest increase at 4.29 percent.