|Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung. —VNA/VNS Photo Nhan Sang
HA NOI (VNS)— Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung yesterday said that Viet Nam's public debt is still within manageable levels at 54.1 per cent of the GDP in 2013.
His statement came amidst concerns expressed by NA deputies that public debt could affect the financial security of the country.
Minister Dung was the first among five cabinet members set to take part in the two-and-a-half day question and answer session of the National Assembly. The other officials are Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc and the Education, Labour and Justice ministers.
All the sessions are being broadcast live nationwide.
In a report sent to the NA before the session began, Dung admitted that public debt was still rising, from 51.7 per cent of GDP in 2010 to the current level.
He said that about half of the current debt was borrowed from outside sources with a payback period of about 15 years and the other half was from domestic sources through the issue of government bonds, mostly of 2-5 year duration.
Responding to concerns over many short-term bonds that could create payback troubles for the Government, Dung noted that the pressure to take out new loans to meet domestic debt payments was quite high.
However, the new loans would not affect national public debt as a whole because they would be borrowed at lower rates, he added.
The Finance Minister said that the target in the next few years would be to spend around 20 per cent of the state budget collection on debt repayment.
In addition, State budget collection must increase by 12-14 per cent annually, Dung said. In 2013, the State budget shortfall was estimated at more than VND63 trillion (US$3 billion).
To restructure public debt in the long-term, priority should be given to basic infrastructure development and severe limits placed on borrowing high-interest foreign loans, Dung said.
Regarding fuel price management, the Finance Minister said that it is being done per Government regulations, but all adjustments were being made accordingly to market fluctuations.
Currently, the prices of petrol and oil are managed under the provisions of Decree 84/2009/ND-CP on trading in these fuels.
The decree aims to encourage enterprises to choose partners that can offer a trading system under which costs can be reduced and reasonable prices offered to consumers.
Dung said that previously, adjustments of petrol and oil prices in the domestic market aimed to curb inflation. So far, that has been avoided, he added.
|Customers purchase gas at a station in HCM City. Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung has unveiled moves to make adjustments of domestic petrol and oil prices a more transparent process. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh
Addressing the problem of a lack of transparency in how the fuel price stabilisation fund was being used, Dung said that starting from the third quarter of 2013, the Ministry has been publishing a quarterly report on the fund's operations on its website.
He also said that Decree 84 would soon be amended to give more freedom for petrol firms to set competitive prices.
Earlier the same day, National Assembly (NA) deputies listened to a report by Head of the NA People's Aspiration Committee Nguyen Duc Hien regarding the process of solving voters' petitions.
The report revealed that nearly 2,200 petitions had been sent to the 13th National Assembly's sixth session organised in October and November last year, mostly with regard to social and economic issues and contributions to enact the Constitution, which was also approved in the same NA session.
Hien said that the NA Standing Committee had instructed and assigned relevant agencies to work on the petitions immediately.
"Prior to the current seventh session, agencies of the NA, government, ministries and sectors had received, worked and prepared responses to all petitions," he noted.
Of the petitions, governmental agencies solved most, with more than 1,900 cases, followed by NA agencies, with nearly 250 cases.
Hien also stressed on the solidarity of voters across the country and those who are living and working abroad in the protest against China's illegal placement of an oil rig in Viet Nam's exclusive economic zone in the East Sea.
He noted with gratitude petitions of voters with regard to measures to further develop the national social economy, ensure national defence and security as well as expand international relations. — VNS