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Prices of pork, face masks heat up pricing committee’s meeting

The prices of pork and face masks were the centre of discussion at an extraordinary meeting of the steering committee for pricing on January 31 under the chair of its head, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue.

Opening the meeting, Deputy PM Hue said the outbreak of acute respiratory disease caused by the new coronavirus (nCoV) would have great impacts on the world economy and prices, and Vietnam is certain to be affected.

He noted that goods supplies were abundant during the traditional New Year holiday, but the CPI of January posted a high increase of 1.23 percent from the previous month, due to pork prices staying at a high level, up 8.29 percent from December 2019. He required relevant agencies to look into pork prices and report to the steering committee.

Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Do Thanh Hai said his ministry and relevant agencies will inspect the production, supply and sale of pork.

According to Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Phung Duc Tien, 19 provinces and centrally-run cities have become free from the African swine fever (ASF), while 37 provinces reported that 85 percent of their communes have had no new outbreaks for 30 days.

The deputy minister said this is a favourable condition for firms and farmers to resume raising pigs.

Representatives from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City said there has been no pork shortage recently. However, livestock companies said they suffered from loss due to ASF, adding production costs are high so it is difficult for them to cut prices.

Regarding the surging prices of face masks and antiseptic solutions, deputy head of the Planning-Finance Department under the Health Minister Le Thanh Cong said demand for those products has increased sharply amidst concerns about the spread of the new coronavirus (nCoV). According to Cong, Vietnam has 46 makers of face masks, but they depend on China for materials. He added that the companies are looking for material suppliers in Europe and other regions.

Deputy PM Hue instructed ministries to coordinate with businesses to stabilize and reduce pork prices by 10 percent in February and following months.

“Ministries, agencies, particularly the Ministry of Industry and Trade must answer the Government why the pork prices remain at the current high level despite no shortage,” Hue said.

He also assigned the market management and financial inspection forces to intensify inspections and strictly punish the illegal raising of face mask prices.