Minister of Finance Vuong Dinh Hue has asked provincial departments of finance and other relevant sectors to closely monitor prices and supply and demand for goods ahead of the coming Tet (lunar New Year) holiday and the first quarter of 2012.

Top priority will be given to supervising prices of essential goods and services such as food and foodstuff, drugs, oil and gas, fertiliser, animal feed and transport and health care services, said Hue .

Since January 1 of next year, the departments’ regular reports to the ministry’s Price Management Department are required to cover information on preparation of goods for the Tet holiday, as well as assessment of demand and supply and implementation of the on-going price stabilisation programme in localities during the holiday.

The minister emphasised the importance of strengthening inspection of price registration for essential goods to prevent price gouging.

Cities and provinces nationwide are set to reserve a significant volume of essential goods and foodstuff worth 2.64 trillion VND (126.5 million USD) to serve consumers during the Tet holiday under the price stabilisation programme.

The figure is much higher than that of 950 billion VND (45.5 million USD) spent by cities and provinces over the Tet holiday last year, said the Price Management Department.

According to the department, the programme had so far attracted the participation of 244 businesses from 47 cities and provinces. Of this number, 61 companies will use their own capital to run the programme without needing support from the State.

Under the programme, businesses provide cheaper priced commodities via two distribution channels. The first channel, accounting for 30 to 40 percent of total supplies, is aimed at low- to middle-income families, while the other focuses on wholesalers, trade centres and supermarkets.

In terms of pricing, businesses involved in the programme will supply commodities at prices 5 to 15 percent lower than those on the market./.