The HCM City People's Committee will provide interest-free loans worth 660 billion VND (33 million USD) to companies selected to take part in the city’s programme to stabilise prices on essential goods throughout the year.

The city has encouraged more eligible companies, including those operating outside the city, to participate in the programme, which also ensures adequate supplies during Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.

The decisions were made at a meeting on March 16 held by the municipal People's Committee.

The programme will focus on three groups: food and foodstuff, domestically made medicine and school supplies.

The food and foodstuff group will cover nine essential goods, including rice, sugar, cooking oil, red meat, poultry, eggs, fruit and vegetables, processed food and seafood.

The prices of commodities under the programme will be sold at 10 percent lower than normal market prices.

The price-stabilisation programme for this year will begin in April and last until the end of the year and for the next Tet will be conducted from January 1, 2012 to March 31, 2012.

Price-stabilised commodities will have reserve stocks equal to 20-25 percent of the city's consumption during this year in order to avoid any shortages or price fluctuations./.