HA NOI — In a heated discussion broadcast nation-wide, National Assembly deputies yesterday called on the Government to maintain a proper balance between inflation and economic growth.
They suggested this could be done by perhaps lowering the targeted 6-6.5 per cent GDP growth rate, along with stricter measures to monitor State-owned flagships and eliminate corruption.
Lawmakers applauded the Government for meeting 15 out of the 22 criteria in socio-economic development in 2011, but expressed concerns over slower economic growth since then that had halted production, left businesses struggling with high interest rates, corruption, unemployment and other pressing social issues.
According to statistics, economic growth during this year's first quarter slowed to 4 per cent and at least 17,700 businesses went bankrupt during the first five months.
NA Deputy Tran Du Lich from HCM City said the Government should not consider forfeiting economic growth to fight inflation or vice versa since all measures must be done flexibly to maintain social stability.
"We can aim for inflation by this year's end at 8 per cent and GDP growth rate at 5.5 per cent (even though) they are not ideally the perfect scenario," he said.
Deputy Tran Quang Chieu from northern Nam Dinh Province called on the Government to move from credit tightening to flexible financial policies that support production, provide better conditions for businesses to access capital, restructure bad debts, reduce high lending interest rates and present to the NA a road map for tax reforms for business.
Bui Duc Thu, lawmaker from northern Lai Chau Province, agreed that credit tightening during the first few months had led to a struggling economy, suggested the Government regularly and closely monitor business and production.
He said policies must avoid the situation of "tightening too fast, loosening too quickly" that could bring back inflation.
Referring to the Government's VND29 trillion (US$1.38 billion) supporting package for businesses, deputy Nguyen Nam Son from northern Hoa Binh Province said tax preferential policies should be extended to sectors such as textiles, transportation, for creating new businesses and credit borrowing.
Lich from HCM City also asked the Government to consider lowering business income tax from 25 to 20 per cent, thus boosting business confidence in Government policies.
Calling the bad debts of banks as "clotted blood" that deter a healthy economy, Lich and other deputies also suggested the Government closely monitor banking activities and efforts to restructure the banking system. He also asked for lower interest rates.
The NA session was also heated with discussion centred on State-owned flagships and corruption.
Chief of the Government Inspectorate Huynh Phong Tranh restated that misspending at five State-owned groups following the Government Inspectorate's first quarter report were estimated at VND30 trillion (nearly $1.43 billion).
According to Le Nhu Tien, deputy chairman of the NA Culture, Education and Youth Committee, who centred his speech on corruption and mismanagement at State corporations, corruption has continued plaguing the entire system, especially in areas such as land, natural and mineral resources, investment, bank credit and in public property and management.
Citing Government statistics, Tien said about 365,000ha of land was currently left unused or misused. "Land has become a precious property and therefore, it's quite easy for those who have the say to capitalise on this incredible source of income and forgot other tasks that ensure social stability such as in education, health care."
Viet Nam's State-owned enterprises have charter capital of more than VND700,000 billion, according to statistics released by the Ministry of Finance in October 2011.
Many NA deputies said the Government had been loose on the management of these "iron fists". "After PMU18, Vinashin and Vinalines, the public is wondering what else is currently being mismanaged?" Tien said.
The live discussion attracted attention from the public nationwide. Dao Thu Vinh, deputy head of Ha Noi's Industry and Trade Department, said the Government should conduct a comprehensive re-assessment of businesses, especially study measures to support the more competitive to keep operating. He suggested lending interest rates be reduced to 10-12 per cent.
Nguyen Lam Vien, general director of Vinamit Joint Stock Company, said farmers were struggling to find outlets for their products while foreign traders had come to Viet Nam to buy raw materials at higher prices, making it difficult for local companies.
Vien hoped that agricultural producers would receive further support from the Government and the banks, otherwise they would lose out even in their own markets.
Today, NA deputies will continue discussing the country's socio-economic situation. — VNS