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Legislators concerned by electricity monopoly

By Nguyen Ha   May 30, 2019 | 10:07 pm PT
Legislators concerned by electricity monopoly
Vietnamese lawmakers are concerned the lack of competition in electricity provision is hurting local citizens. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen
Lawmakers are unhappy that Vietnam’s monopoly electricity distributor is raising power tariffs at will because it has no competitor.

Nguyen Sy Cuong, a National Assembly delegate from the central Ninh Thuan Province, said at the legislature's session Thursday: "Vietnam Electricity (EVN) always says it needs the money collected from hikes to cover increasing costs, but at the same time reports losses. Should we continue to invest in a monopoly that always reports losses?"

Hanoi delegate Nguyen Lan Hieu too expressed concern. "Has the electricity price been increasing because there is no competition in buying and supplying electricity?"

Delegate Nguyen Quoc Han of Ca Mau Province said the recent hike in tariffs would increase prices and diminish the competitiveness of local products. "The public has expressed concern since the tariff hike has come at a time when cooking gas, healthcare and education have also become costlier."

They could pose a challenge to achieving the target of keeping inflation under 4 percent this year, he added.

In March the electricity tariffs were increased by 8.36 percent, two years after the previous hike. The tariffs have almost doubled in the last decade.

But there have been some complaints that the April electricity bill was double or triple the March bill, and not 8.36 percent higher. 

EVN replied this was because of rising consumption in a hot summer. 

The Ministry of Industry and Trade defended the tariff hike saying costs had risen last year by VND20 trillion ($854 million). It said it had excluded exchange rate differences in electricity purchase contracts, and if they had been included, the tariffs should have been risen by 9.26 percent.

The Government Inspectorate is now auditing EVN and will have the results of the investigation by the end of next month.

EVN reported a loss of VND2.2 trillion ($93.9 million) in 2017. It said it made a profit last year but has not released specific figures.

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