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Minister, SBV chief face tough questions from NA deputies

Update: September, 30/2014 - 08:41
Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Minh Quang responds to NA deputies yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

HA NOI (VNS) — The Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Nguyen Minh Quang, faced a tough morning of questions from National Assembly (NA) deputies at the Standing Committee's thirty-first session yesterday.

Up for discussion were delays in the granting of red books - a Vietnamese name for land use right books - to Ha Noi apartment dwellers, and recent "mismanagement of mineral exploitation" throughout the country.

NA Deputy Nguyen Sy Cuong, a member of the NA Laws Committee, said that the capital failed to grant red books to many apartment residents, including those who had been waiting for years.

Cuong said, "According to complaints filed by residents of the Me Tri Thuong Urban Area, households had to pay a ‘lubricating' fee of VND8 million (US$377) to the Department of Natural Resources and Environment's land registration office to get a red book."

Those who did not pay had yet to receive their red books, he added.

In response, Quang said that the granting red books to apartment residents was complicated. He admitted that poor behaviour at the land registration office, which gave rise to the complaints, was to blame. Quang added that the ministry conducted inspections to curb the behaviour.

But, NA deputy Bui Thi An said that Ha Noi People's Committee reported that it had already dealt with the problem and informed the environment ministry. An then pressed the minister to make sense of the contradictory reports.

Quang said he would verify and answer the question with supporting documents at a later date.

NA Vice chairwoman, Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan ordered the minister to co-operate with city authorities to quickly solve the situation.

NA deputies at the session also grilled Quang on recent issues surrounding mineral exploitation violations.

NA deputy Do Van Luong, a member of the NA Justice Committee, said that rampant illegal mineral exploitation occurred throughout the country.

He said this continued despite sanctions meant to deter violators. Luong said they were not strong enough since miners only had to pay a nominal sum which meant little compared to the size of their profits.

Quang said that sanctions on illegal mineral exploitation were limited by law. He suggested raising punishment to include criminal prosecution.

He said that the Government would issue two directives to strengthen management of the country's mineral resources.

12-14% credit growth

State Bank of Viet Nam Governor Nguyen Van Binh assures National Assembly deputies that the year's 12-14 per ent credit growth target is within reach. — VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

The State Bank of Viet Nam's Governor, Nguyen Van Binh, yesterday told the Standing Committee of the National Assembly that banks this year would achieve 12-14 per cent credit growth.

Binh assured deputies that this would happen, despite concerns by the public that the idea was unworkable because of the economy's weak capacity to absorb the extra funds.

He said that credit for the Vietnamese economy had risen by an estimated seven per cent in the first nine months of the year.

He added that banks must add 5-7 per cent in the next three months to achieve the State Bank's target.

"September's growth is expected to be higher than the 6.87 per cent last September. Therefore, the 12-14 per cent target by year-end is absolutely achievable," Binh told the committee.

Last week, Cao Sy Kiem, who is chairman of the management board of DongA Bank and chairman of the Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Association, told Viet Nam News that the 12-14 per cent target would be very difficult to achieve.

He said that even a 10 per cent target was only achievable if Government programmes to bolster total demand were laid out in single effective steps - and taken seriously.

Kiem said the central bank had taken several steps to push banks to lend out, including non-collateral loans. However, bankers expected an improvement in total demand for funds, purchasing power and employment rates, which were necessary to bolster businesses and production.

In terms of foreign exchange issues, Binh said that 2014 was the third consecutive year of stability.

"Exchange rates have been always in line with the central bank's directions. We haven't intervened in the forex market in recent months. When we intervened, it was pro-actively to support exports," Binh said.

In June, the State Bank devalued the dong for the first time this year by weakening its reference rate by 1 per cent to VND21,246 per dollar.

This was done to help bolster exports and ensure the stability of dong currency during rising tension in the East Sea.

"The forex market has kept stable, which suggests that we may not have to devalue the dong by up to 2 per cent as vowed earlier this year. If changes are required, the margin will be 1-1.43 per cent," Binh said.

Binh said credit institutions had been more stable, ensuring the restructuring of the banking system and credit institutions were on track. — VNS

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