Vietnam to focus on economy, won't tighten policy

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Vietnam will focus on stabilizing the economy and won't tighten monetary policy for now, a government official said.

"Inflation is not too much of a concern now," Nguyen Xuan Phuc, head of the government office, told reporters in Hanoi Thursday. "The most important task now is stabilizing the macro economy."

Inflation reached a 10-month high of 8.46 percent in February. The government will try to limit consumer price growth at 7 percent this year, Lao Dong newspaper reported Thursday.

Prices may rise 4 percent in the first quarter and between 8 percent and 9 percent for the whole year, Le Duc Thuy, a former governor of the central bank, and chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, said at the briefing.

The surge in prices last month was because of "seasonal factors," said Phuc, who attributed the increase to consumer spending during Tet Lunar New Year. Commodity prices should still be kept under control, he said.

The Southeast Asian nation will control prices of commodities including rice, gasoline, fertilizer, cement and steel to prevent inflation from accelerating, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung said in a statement on the government's Web site on March 1.

Ministries including trade and finance must "proactively" examine the supply and demand of "essential goods," including those commodities, to ensure that there are no shortages that would cause prices to surge.

Vietnam expects the economy to grow 6.5 percent this year compared with 5.3 percent in 2009.

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