City acts to curb inflation

On the program “Talk and Do”, televised on March 6 by the HCMC People’s Council in partnership with HCMC TV, City authorities discussed measures to curb inflation, stabilize the macro-economy and ensure social welfare. 

Shoppers at Ho Chi Minh City's Ben Thanh market (Photo: SGGP)

Tight management of prices
Nguyen Thi Hong, vice chairwoman of the HCMC People’s Committee, said drug stores have raised prices of not only domestically made medicines but also of imported ones by 5-20 percent during the past days.
She said that to cope with the hike in drug prices, the committee has asked the city’s Health Department to coordinate with the Saigon Pharmaceutical Company to maintain a steady supply of medicines in the market to keep prices stable.
The city would also step up efforts to create supply sources and build wholesale and retail systems within the city, to facilitate the price stabilization program.
However, Truong Trong Nghia, deputy head of the council’s Economy and Budget Department, voiced his concern that stabilizing prices was necessary but it would only be a temporary solution whereas a long-term solution was needed.
Ms. Hong said in her reply that under the price stabilization program, the city hasn’t subsidized prices rather created favorable conditions for enterprises to supply goods.
She said that she had given strict instructions on registration and listing of prices.
Under the instructions, all companies dealing in essential and important goods and services must register their prices with the city’s Finance Department and sell their goods and services at the registered prices only or face severe penalties.
Dang Van Duc, head of the city’s Market Management Department, said his department had detected 2,772 cases which violated the price regulations and had been fined VND15.1 billion.
He said the department would continue to keep a close watch on pricing and the market to prevent goods speculation and price hikes and also monitor all banks’ foreign currency trading.
Stabilizing production
Fearing that the price hikes may affect workers’ lives, economist Phan Chanh Duong said that for the Government’s plans to become effective, workers concerns must be seen to.
He said that if poor people were receiving subsidized electricity rates, workers, small and medium sized enterprises must also receive benefits.
According to him, stabilizing production would be a decisive solution to all problems.
Agreeing with Mr. Duong, Huynh Cong Hung, deputy head of the council’s Economy and Budget Department, said that he realized it was very difficult for enterprises to maintain production in the current situation as prices of all commodities had soared while loan interest rates have also been high. 
Vice chairwoman Hong said that besides commercial banks, the city also has the Credit Guarantee Fund for small and medium sized enterprises. The fund would give support to and create favorable conditions for enterprises.
She added that in the near future the city will continue to launch programs to interact with enterprises and listen to their concerns.
Le Trong Sang, deputy director of the city’s Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs Department, said that most landlords had raised the monthly rent of houses by the end of 2010 and were now again planning to raise the rents. This would prove to be a burden for workers whose families would suffer as a consequence.
The department and the district administrations had mobilized landlords to delay increasing rents, he added.
Nguyen Ngoc Hoa, chairman of Saigon Union of Cooperatives, said his union would continue to expand the mobile shop network to sell price-stabilized goods in remote areas, industrial parks and export processing zones.
He added that there would be 400 mobile selling trips this year.
Mr Truong Trong Nghia said for the long term, production and business activities have to be stabilized, especially expenses in public investment and spending have to be curbed. The public administration has grossly overspent in the past.
Timely and rational policies are also needed to help small and medium sized enterprises to overcome difficulties, he said, adding that the city has to call on its people to save money and cut down on luxuries.
Pham Phuong Thao, chairwoman of the HCMC People’s Council concluded that the city would continue to launch the price stabilization program to curb inflation, stabilize the macro-economy and ensure social welfare.
In addition, it will speed up the “Be Vietnamese buy Vietnamese-made goods” campaign, continue to improve investment efficiency and implement administrative reforms. 

By Van Anh – Translated by Yen Chuong

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