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No stimulus package yet for battered economy amid coronavirus outbreak: Gov't

Update: February, 07/2020 - 08:44

 

Watermelon on sale at a Big C supermarket on Wednesday next to a board saying 'Joining hands to help Gia Lai farmers" following news that thousands of tonnes of watermelon and dragon fruit were stuck at border gates due to the coronavirus outbreak in China. Photo laodong.vn

HÀ NỘI — Việt Nam had no plans to offer a stimulus package to support companies hit by the coronavirus outbreak despite bleak economic forecasts for 2020, the Government said on Wednesday.

Deputy Planning and Investment Minister Trần Quốc Phương told reporters at a press conference following the January Cabinet meeting the ministry had proposed two packages in response to the ongoing outbreak.

The first was to prioritise resources on measures to prevent and control the disease, Phương said. The other package to relieve economic consequences caused by the outbreak and resume production and trade would immediately be put into motion as soon as the epidemic ended, he added.

The death toll from the novel coronavirus 2019-nCov that originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan climbed to 565 on Thursday, with 28,262 people infected, mostly in mainland China. The virus has rapidly spread to 28 countries and territories including Việt Nam, which has reported 12 infections, prompting the country to declare a public health emergency.

The latest report announced by the Ministry of Planning and Investment on Wednesday showed how hard the outbreak has hit Việt Nam’s economy.

If the outbreak was controlled within the first quarter this year, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate in 2020 would reach about 6.27 per cent, according to the report.

The worse scenario in which the outbreak goes on till June would pull down GDP to 6.09 per cent, said the report.

Việt Nam will not be able to achieve its economic development target of 6.8 per cent for 2020 in either case.

Deputy Minister Phương would not rule out the possibility of a stimulus package, though more calculations were required to determine several factors like the country’s financial status or who would receive the aid, he added.

“We can clearly see that watermelon and dragon fruit farmers are affected right now,” he said.

“We plan to support them in a similar way to which we helped farmers during the African swine fever outbreak. The measures are included in the second package to resume production post-outbreak.”

As of Thursday, thousands of tonnes of watermelon and dragon fruit were still stuck at border gates with China after the northern neighbour decided to close wholesale border markets.

Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng asserted that the Government was not considering a stimulus package at the moment.

“Other countries have them (stimulus packages) but we are yet to reach a stage that requires us to do so. The Government and the Prime Minister will only consider this option if the epidemic grows more severe,” he said.

School closures

Deputy Education and Training Minister Nguyễn Hữu Độ on Wednesday said that ministry was ready to close schools for another week to protect students.

He said that the ministry could end this school year later than May 31 and delay the important high school graduation examination if schools had to be closed for longer due to the epidemic.

“The Ministry of Education and Training is very clear about this: the health of the students must be placed above all,” Độ said.

All 63 localities in Việt Nam closed kindergartens, schools and universities from between two and seven days this week following Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc’s decision to declare a public health emergency. — VNS

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