The national consumer price index (CPI) for this year increased 18.58 percent against last year, the General Statistics Office (GSO) reported yesterday.

This increase was close to the Government's target in terms of inflation after many policies to curb inflation and stabilise the macro economy were passed, said Nguyen Duc Thang, head of GSO's CPI Department.

However, December had the largest CPI increase in the last three months of the year at 0.53 percent. The figures were 0.36 percent for October and 0.39 percent for November, he said.

Increasing demand for goods and services during the Christmas, New Year and Lunar New Year holidays had pushed prices of products up, he said. Natural disasters and the exchange rate increase between the Vietnamese dong and the US dollar had made prices up.

In December, garments, catering and consumption services, and home appliances saw the largest increase in comparison with last month.

Prices had a year-on-year surge of 12.9 percent for garments, 17.29 percent for home appliance and 24.8 percent for catering and consumption services.

Food prices increased by 0.49 percent in December against previous months and at 27.38 percent over last December.

The rice price jumped 1.4 percent in December against November and 19 percent compared with last December due to impacts from floods in the centre.

Catering services also rose by 0.57 percent in December and 23.37 percent over last December.

The remaining eight good items showed a slight increase at below 1 percent for December while prices for postal and telecom services reduced by 0.08 per cent.

Goods showing slight price rises in December had high price increase for the whole year, Thang said. For instance, the price of education services increased by 23.18 percent over the same period last year due to the Government's policy to increase school fees.

Prices also increased by a sharp 16 percent for transport services due to the high price of petrol and oil, and at 19.66 percent for housing services and building materials due to high maintenance costs, high rent and high prices for electricity and tap water.

The price for gold reduced by 0.97 percent in December but increased 39 percent compared with the same period last year. The price for a US dollar climbed 0.98 percent in December and 8.47 percent over last year./.