May 06, 2019 / 14:27

Why does Vietnam label plans on energy price hike “secret”?

The Hanoitimes - Senior government officials said that electricity and gasoline are items leaving impacts on the economy and catching public attention.

Vietnamese media has questioned the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) about labeling “secret” the plans for raising electricity and gasoline prices.
Government meeting with the chairmanship of Chairman Mai Tien Dung. Photo: VGP
Government April meeting with the chairmanship of Chairman Mai Tien Dung. Photo: VGP
VnExpress asked the MOIT at the government’s regular meeting last weekend why it tagged the adjustment of power and gasoline prices as “state secret” and basing on what ground.

In response, Deputy Minister of MOIT Do Thang Hai said that the ministry keeps the plans unrevealed before the official announcement with an aim to avoid any unexpected impacts on the society due to the crucial role of electricity and petroleum in the economy. 

Hai attributed the Law on Protecting State Secrets ratified by the National Assembly on November 15, 2018 and related documents issued in 2008 under the prime minister’s approval, and those issued by the Ministry of Public Security. 

Chairman and Head of the Government Office Mai Tien Dung said that the building and the circulation of documents relating to the price hike should be kept secret before authorized agencies announce the hike. 

Dung implied that keeping the plans unknown would be good to some extent as the electricity and petroleum prices are among issues catching the people’s attention and effecting the consumer price index (CPI). 

Dung noted that the prime minister has paid special attention to electricity due to the double-digit growth in the power needs. Guaranteeing sufficient power for the economic growth of 6.5%-7% annually remains tough and effort-consuming.  

The electricity prices in Vietnam have been on the upward trend over the past years while the gasoline prices have been mostly revised up since this year, causing public indignation. 

The latest power price hike was made on March 20 with a rise of 8.36% to an average of VND1,850 (8 US cent) per kWh, excluding valued added tax (VAT). 

Following the social outcry after the electricity power price hike, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered the MOIT and related agencies to check price increase, the calculation and the billing.

Electricity of Vietnam (EVN), the country’s sole power distributor, is allowed to raise the power prices below 10% each time if it suffers a rise of at least 5% in the input cost. However, EVN’s business results remain non-transparent.

EVN is under direct management of the MOIT. 

Meanwhile, the gasoline prices have been raised three consecutive times with combined 19% over the past month. 

Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy head of Hanoi’s Taxi Association, said that the increase of the gasoline prices with the latest hike on May 2 would drive down taxi operators’ profits by more than 40%.