Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The gross domestic product (GDP) of Việt Nam this year is expected to reach 6.7 per cent, perfectly on point with the previously set target.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc yesterday delivered a report on the national socio-economic development in 2017 in the opening ceremony of the fall plenary session of the National Assembly.
Việt Nam’s GDP achieved 6.41 per cent over the last nine months of the year, with growth on the momentum again, after a disappointing first quarter, said the PM.
“Such positive growth shows that the economy restructuring, in line with the reform in growth model, is starting to take effect, as (Việt Nam’s economy) gradually becomes less dependent on natural resource exploitation, especially oil and gas,” Phúc said.
The PM also revealed the government’s development targets for next year, of which the GDP is set to be between 6.5 and 6.7 per cent.
The consumer price index (CPI) increase rate will be around 4 per cent, exports and imports will increase by 7 to 8 per cent, while the trade deficit must be under 3 per cent.
The government will strive to bring down the number of poor households on the multidimensional poverty standard by 1-1.3 per cent. The unemployment rate in cities should be no higher than 4 per cent.
In keeping with the ambitious plan to implement a universal health insurance, the government set a goal that at least 85.2 per cent of citizens should be covered by health insurance in 2018.
Head of the National Assembly Economic Committee, Vũ Hồng Thanh, warned about several challenges that would undermine the country’s economic development in the near future.
Bad debts have been a prolonged heated issue over the last few years. The bad debts recorded in the banking system were below 3 per cent, Thanh said, but the rate in the whole economy was very high.
The equitisation of State-owned enterprises was ongoing but problems remained in the evaluation process and the selection of shareholders, he said.
The business environment was far from pro-business as the government intended, as business conditions, or so-called minor licences, were still blocking the way.
“While the number of new firms has been increasing, those suspending operations or awaiting dissolution were on the rise as well,” Thanh said.
The minor licence issue was also one of the biggest complaints of Vietnamese citizens, said the Việt Nam Fatherland Front Central Committee Chairman Trần Thanh Mẫn.
“(The people) ask that the government accelerates the reform for simplified administrative procedures to assure the transparency and to come up with breakthrough policies favourable to businesses,” he said.
In the afternoon session, the Government affirmed its efforts to cut spending.
Starting from the 2018 fiscal year, only Government ministers or officials of equivalent rank can purchase Government cars. The current use of Government cars by lower ranking officials will also be reviewed.
The NA Finance and Budget Committee proposed major cuts in funding for ceremonial activities, festivals and other meetings.
Notably, budgets for opening ceremonies for infrastructure projects and other activities not included in Government-approved lists will not be allowed, according to the committee’s chairman Nguyễn Đức Hải.
Most of the committee’s members approved the Government’s plan to increase base salary by 7 per cent but stressed the importance of downsizing the State payroll. The committee also called for measures to improve Governmental offices and agencies’ financial accountability
Major adjustments were also proposed for the country’s Competition Law, which was passed in 2004. More than a decade later with the country engaging in an increasingly globalised world, there is a need to expand and improve the law to ensure Vietnamese government agencies’ ability to monitor and regulate complex international businesses, according to minister of Industry and Trade Trần Tuấn Anh.
Anh said the draft amended Competition Law will limit and regulate business activities that may enhance monopolies and restrict unfair competition. The draft will also provide government agencies with a legal foundation to enforce Vietnamese laws and regulation on unfair business that takes place outside the country.
Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism Nguyễn Ngọc Thiện discussed a number of issues with the draft amended Sport Law with the highlight being the Government’s view on sports betting.
Thiện said the majority of Government members (19/27) approved the draft, with sports betting being limited to a handful of activities, namely horse racing, dog racing and a pilot programme for betting on international football based on a Government decree issued in January this year.
However, other members argued that sports betting is a complicated and sensitive issue for Vietnamese society with major potential impacts on social order. They urged for further consideration and additional time to review the impact of the decree, which came into effect on March 31.
Chairman of the NA’s culture and education committee Phan Thanh Bình said while there is demand to regulate sports betting and potential to attract investment for the country’s sport industry, the committee advised more time is needed to review the impacts it may have on society. Bình asked agencies to produce detailed reports on such impacts and present them to NA deputies. — VNS