Lao CPI figures rise by 5.33 percent in March
The cost of living in Laos is continuing to rise, with power and water prices on the increase.
According to a report from the Lao National Statistics Bureau, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) in the household utilities category including electricity, water and cooking gas saw a 2 percent increase in March, forcing consumers to outlay more for basic utilities.
The year on year change of the utilities' CPI in March was 7.60 percent, representing the highest inflation rate for goods and services in Laos. The inflation rate of the 12 goods and service categories in Laos saw a combined growth of 5.33 percent in March.
Electricity price hikes took place after the government approved a 3 percent increase in the price of electricity each month from March until the end of this year, which will equate to a more than 15 percent increase by the end of the year. The price of electricity will also see a further 2 percent increase annually from 2013 until 2017.
Transport costs were one of the driving forces of CPI increases in March. The month on month change in the CPI transport category was 1.23 percent in March, while year on year it was 4.13 percent.
Increasing transport costs are largely attributable to the rising price of oil on the world market. The government is urged to restructure fuel pricing as a short term measure to stem rising inflation, with fuel prices incurring taxes and charges putting up fuel costs by 30 percent.
CPI increases in March were also driven by the rising cost of food and non alcoholic drinks, which saw a month on month change of about 1 percent while year on year they rose by 6.3 percent. While food prices are rising, the price of rice, a major food staple in Laos, has remained steady.
The government has imposed restrictions on the export of rice, closing down opportunities to export the commodity to neighbouring countries.
The restaurant and hotel service category meanwhile saw a month on month change of 0.95 percent and a year on year of 6.05 percent.
Cigarettes and alcoholic beverages rose by 0.22 percent month on month and 3.49 percent year on year.
According to the National Statistics Bureau, the cost of labour and construction materials such as bricks and processed timber was also on the increase.
Other goods and service categories remained stable in March, including entertainment, recreation, education, clothing and footwear, but were still up by between one and three percent over the previous year.
The government has recognised the burden imposed by rising living costs and has agreed to increase salaries for state employees.
The government is studying its capacity to increase the salaries of state employees, hoping to do so next fiscal year, which begins in October.