Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc addresses a Government meeting in Hà Nội on Tuesday. — VNA/VNS Photo
HÀ NỘI — Cabinet members have begun reviewing the national socio-economic situation in May – the first month after the social distancing measures were lifted and the economy entered the “new normal” period
In his opening remarks at a Government meeting in Hà Nội on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc stressed that Việt Nam had gone 48 days without COVID-19 infections in the community, and most of the patients had been discharged from hospital.
Việt Nam’s performance in the fight against the pandemic had been praised by international news agencies, he said.
The leader lauded cities and provinces like Hà Nội, Hưng Yên, Quảng Ninh, Hải Phòng, Bắc Ninh and Đồng Nai, among others, for their great efforts to complete assigned socio-economic development targets.
The domestic tourism sector had also proven its strong vitality last month, he said, adding that aviation and tourism that were severely hit by the pandemic had begun to resume normal activities.
Thanks to a range of activities adopted by the Government to support production and business, May indices were much better than those of April, according to the PM.
This would be an opportunity for Việt Nam to move ahead despite the pandemic, he said, calling for efforts to optimise this “golden opportunity” while containing the spread of COVID-19.
The PM said major economic balances had been ensured, inflation reduced and people’s living standards improved.
In this session, he also said Government would continue discussions on issues related to socio-economic development and the building of legal institutions, while carefully assessing risks and challenges that need to be overcome in the time ahead such as drought, hot weather, and negative impact of the COVID-19 on economic relations and tourism activities.
The leader called for more drastic measures to gain bigger economic development in the remaining months of 2020, and keeping a close watch on the international situation to put in place policies on trade, investment and tourism to take advantage of the global shift of investment flows.
He also stressed the need to discuss stricter measures to address child abuse, together with those to ensure children’s rights. Localities, social organisations, the Women’s Union and the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union were asked to uphold their responsibility in caring for and protecting children.
Also on the agenda was the price of pork and the PM emphasised the importance of stabilising cost by value chains and encouraging investment in large-scale husbandry and applying modern technology in production.
Meanwhile the Ministry of Planning and Investment said more than 5,000 businesses resumed operations in May 2020, a year-on-year rise of 32.7 percent.
Growth was seen in the total retail sales of goods and services (26.9 per cent), index of industrial production (11.2 per cent), and exports (5.2 per cent).
Revenue from trade activities and services in May rose sharply by 26.9 per cent compared to the previous month, but declined by 4.8 per cent against the same period of 2019.
In January-May, the total retail sales of goods and services saw a year-on-year reduction of 3.9 per cent.
Trade of goods was seriously affected by COVID-19. However, Việt Nam still maintained a trade surplus after the first five months of the year, which was estimated at US$1.9 billion.
The index of industrial production (IIP) expanded by only 1 per cent, the lowest in the past few years.
Meanwhile, the State budget collection in the five-month period reached VNĐ529.6 trillion ($22.8 billion), equalling 35 per cent of the annual estimate.
Concluding the meeting, PM Phúc ordered every sector, ministry and locality to aim to roll out concrete and more drastic measures to ensure robust economic recovery to realise the highest growth goals as possible.
The Economist listed Việt Nam as the 12th strongest among 66 emerging economies in its report on financial strength in the wake of the COVID-19 fallout, which indicated the country’s rising prestige on the international stage, according to the PM.
But he warned that inferior levels, especially front line forces, are not allowed to be subjective in the face of ongoing complicated evolution of the pandemic across the world and the nation is encountering challenges such as disruptive supply chain, adverse weather conditions, and inflation pressure, and slow disbursement of public investment capital.
All levels and sectors were urged to implement the Government’s newly-issued Resolution No. 84/NQ-CP concerning tasks and solutions to continue removing difficulties for production and business activities, accelerating the disbursement of public investment, and ensuring social order and safety to maintain economic growth momentum.
He also asked to accelerate the digital economy, e-government and e-payment development and soon complete a legal framework for new tech-based business models.
The PM asked for measures to continue promoting tourism and social housing construction as well as preventing child abuse.
Customs officials suspended
Meanwhile, eleven officials, including five in taxation and six in the customs have been suspended from work due to their involvement in an alleged bribery case at Japan’s Tenma Vietnam company, Deputy Minister of Finance Vũ Thị Mai told a press conference in Hà Nội later the same day following the monthly Government meeting.
She said the ministry set up an inspection team on May 25 to conduct an investigation at the Department of Taxation and the Department of Customs in the northern province of Bắc Ninh in which the Japanese company is based, as well as organisations and individuals concerned.
The result of the investigation will be announced to the press, she said.
Chief of the Office of the Ministry of Public Security Tô Ân Xô said the ministry’s leaders ordered the provincial public security force to verify information on the case and work with the company and units concerned.
Units were also assigned to work with the Japanese side to collect relevant evidence and documents.
Xô said that PM Phúc had required relevant agencies to urgently clarify the allegations, and strictly punish violations if any, creating a transparent and fair environment for investment and business while preventing tax evasion.
Tenma Vietnam is a subsidiary of Japan’s plastic product maker Tenma Corporation.
The case came into the spotlight when Japanese media including Asahi Shimbun newspaper, Kyodo news agency and Nikkei, reported that Tenma Vietnam gave a bribe of 25 million JPY (US$232,000) to several Vietnamese officials to avoid paying corporate income tax and import tax. — VNS