Vietnam inflation hits 25 percent in May

HANOI, May 27, 2008 (AFP) – Vietnamese consumer prices surged by over 25 percent in May compared to the same month last year, a trend driven mainly by sharply higher food prices, the communist government said Tuesday. Prices shot up an estimated 3.91 percent between April and May alone, a period that saw some panic-buying of rice as prices surged, the highest month-to-month rise since 1995, said the General Statistics Office (GSO).

Food and beverage costs rose by over 42 percent year-on-year, with the staple food rice and other grains up almost 68 percent in May compared to a year earlier, said the GSO.

The World Bank’s chief economist in Vietnam, Martin Rama, called the 25-percent inflation rate, which is the country’s highest in over a decade, “a worrying figure, a very high inflation rate.”

“Food prices have grown even faster,” he said.

“Food prices and especially rice prices have different impacts. They are good for farmers in the deltas, but bad for poor people in the cities and in remote regions who don’t grow rice.”

Non-food inflation reached 11.6 percent, Rama said.

Housing and construction materials rose 23 percent, clothing and footwear prices were up 9.5 percent, pharmaceutica