Consumers shop at a supermarket (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam posted a 0.63 percent increase in the consumer price index (CPI) in 2015, the slowest since 2001 and much lower than the 5 percent target set by the National Assembly, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported to the media on December 24.

GSO Director General Nguyen Bich Lam said the monthly CPI rise averaged 0.05 percent this year, noting that the December CPI hiked 0.02 percent month on month and 0.6 percent year on year.

Slight increases were seen in seven goods categories this month such as restaurant and catering services (0.16 percent); beverages and cigarette (0.16 percent); and apparel, hats and footwear (0.32 percent).

Meanwhile, prices in the rest four categories declined, including post and telecommunications (0.03 percent); transport (1.57 percent); culture, entertainment and tourism (0.05 percent); and household appliances (0.1 percent).

Deputy Director of the GSO’s Price Statistics Department Do Thi Ngoc attributed the modest CPI expansion in 2015 to the abundant domestic supply of food and foodstuff. An augmentation in global food output and the strong competition from other big rice exporters like Thailand and India also kept Vietnam’s rice prices low.

Fuel prices in the world also continued the downward trend throughout the year, leading to reduction in domestic petrol prices, she said, elaborating that a combined decrease of 24.77 percent in petrol prices this year pushed the overall CPI down 0.9 percent.

The local costs of household gas were also aligned to global prices, down 18.6 percent from a year earlier.

In international markets, prices of other staple commodities were relatively stable while those of some products like fuel materials and steel fell sharply, resulting in a yearly 5.82 percent drop in their import prices, the official noted.

The production cost of agro-forestry-fishery products declined by 0.28 percent, and that of industrial goods went down 0.58 percent.

Goods categories under the State management also saw smaller price adjustment than last year, she said, adding that the expenses of healthcare services, educational services and electricity prices only affected this year’s CPI by an equivalent 0.07 percent, 0.12 percent and 0.19 percent, respectively.

The adjustment of USD/VND exchange rate in response to the strong depreciation of the Chinese yuan, also contributed 0.72 percent to this year’s CPI increase, Ngoc added.

Thanks to the central bank’s effective measures, the average USD/VND exchange rate climbed by only 3.16 percent while gold prices dipped by 4.73 percent from 2014.

The low CPI growth in the last couple of years was also attributable to consumers’ prudence in spending, the Deputy Director noted.

The GSO said the December core inflation (excluding the price changes of food, fresh foodstuff, energy and goods managed by the State like medical and educational services) inched up 0.11 percent from the previous month and 1.69 percent from a year before.

The core inflation for the whole year rose by 2.05 percent from 2014, data show.

Director of the Price Statistics Department Vu Thi Thu Thuy forecast the 2016 CPI will continue to increase against that of this year, citing expected rises in tuition fees, healthcare service costs, electricity prices, and minimum wage.-VNA