Vietnam’s consumer price index (CPI) in June increased slightly by 0.05 percent from the previous month, driving CPI in the first half of 2013 up 2.4 percent against last December, the lowest rate of growth since 2004.

The General Statistics Office (GSO) announced on June 24 that the figure in June and in the first six months of this year saw year-on-year rises of 6.69 percent and 6.73 percent respectively.

Prices in June increased by 0.02-0.42 percent in eight out of 11 commodity categories used to calculate the CPI. The highest rise during the month was recorded in the group apparel-headwear-footwear, while the housing and building materials category experienced the lowest price increase.

A decrease was seen in restaurant services, transport, postal services and telecommunications. The rapid fall in the price of rice resulted in a 0.62 percent decrease in food prices.

The GSO also announced that the country’s two largest cities, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, saw a CPI increase of 0.08 percent and 0.12 percent respectively.

According to Nguyen Duc Thang, head of the GSO’s Price Department, the 2.4 percent increase in the first half of 2013 is a positive sign that the country can keep inflation below 8 percent as set by the National Assembly.

More importantly, if the CPI remains stable, the State Bank of Vietnam will cut lending interest rates, which helps businesses reduce production costs and lower their prices, encouraging consumption, Thang said.-VNA