Vietnam aims to keep inflation at 15-17 pct: PM

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The government will strive to keep this year's inflation at 15-17 percent, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung told the press after a monthly cabinet meeting on Friday.

Curbing inflation, achieving macroeconomic stability and ensuring social welfare will continue to be top priorities for the second half of 2011, he said.

The PM also said that the government has targeted keeping credit growth under 20 percent and trade deficit under 16 percent.

Vietnam must strive to keep its budget deficit below 5 percent of GDP and attain a GDP growth rate of around 6 percent this year, he said.

He also affirmed that the government will maintain its tightened, monetary policy to achieve these aims.

Dung said the government has taken several measures to support the development of small and medium sized enterprises, including extension of tax deadlines, tax reductions and exemptions. It has also increased the minimum salary for employees.

The prime minister asked ministries, branches and localities to pay attention to administrative reforms, fighting corruption, settling complaints and denouncements, and preventing traffic accidents. H

They should also be vigilant in maintaining national security and protecting national sovereignty at sea, he said.

Government officials and provincial leaders who attended the meeting agreed that in the first six months of this year, the country had seen encouraging achievements in curbing inflation, stabilizing the macro economy and ensuring social welfare.

The foreign currency and gold markets have stabilized and the forex rate kept at an acceptable limit, they said. Foreign currency reserves have improved and credit growth placed under control, they said, adding that investment in poverty reduction, agriculture and rural development has been maintained.

In the first six months of the year, Vietnam recorded a GDP growth rate of 5.57 percent and an export turnover of US$49 billion, up 25.8 percent compared to the same period last year.

The country's industrial production value increased by 14.3 percent while agricultural production rose by 3.3 percent. State budget collection reached VND46.7 trillion.

All social welfare policies have been implemented effectively, especially those targeting poor people and families who've rendered outstanding services to the nation, said Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan, Minister of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs .

The meeting also heard that ministries, branches and local agencies have cut down over VND3.8 trillion in regular spending and VND80.5 trillion in investment.

Ho Chi Minh City People's Committee Chairman Le Hoang Quan said the city has maintained a high GDP growth rate and ensured social welfare thanks to strict implementation of the Government's Resolution No. 11.

However, cabinet members also agreed that the Vietnamese economy was still facing a lot of difficulties and challenges including high inflation, high interest rates, a big trade deficit, decreasing investment and the declining stock market.

Although the country's consumer price index (CPI) in June saw the lowest increase since the beginning of this year at 1.09 percent, the six-month figure rose by 16.03 percent compared to the same period last year.

Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh said that inflation pressures remain heavy as high petrol prices make the government's price management work more difficult.

Therefore, the adjustments made to prices of essential goods such as petrol, electricity and coal should be based on real conditions in the country, he said.

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