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Vietnam’s public debt rises three times faster than economic growth: PM

Saturday, January 07, 2017, 17:02 GMT+7

Public debt in Vietnam has been rising three times faster than the country’s economic growth in the past five years, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said during a conference on Friday.

PM Phuc chaired two conferences organized on the day to review what the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Trade did in 2016.

During the meeting with the finance ministry, the head of government said that Vietnam’s public debt has been increasing by an average of 18.4 percent per annum in the past five years, three times faster than economic growth in the same period.

Public debt now nears its ceiling, which is 64.98 percent of GDP, with regular spending being the main reason for this situation, he said, requesting the Ministry of Finance to figure out a viable solution to the issue, including raising the debt ceiling.

The premier also asked the ministry to adjust several policies regarding VAT, resource tax, environmental protection tariffs, and high-tech agriculture taxation, to improve the country’s investment environment.

He praised the finance ministry’s action to sell public vehicles, urging that the initiative be applied to other public property to reduce wastefulness and corruption.

He also ordered the agency to continue scaling down the state sector and to expedite the privatization and divestment of state capital, which is aimed at mobilizing resources for national development.

Industry ‘stumbles’

Speaking with delegates from the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the Vietnamese leader stated that the many complicated and unreasonable regulations have been removed, creating more favorable conditions for businesses.

However, there are still limits to the ministry’s system and the country’s industry sector.

As the industry sector has “stumbled” but has not “fallen,” further restructuring should be carried out to focus all resources on promoting Vietnamese products, the head of government urged.

The industry ministry must thoroughly deal with sluggish and loss-making projects, he asserted, adding that resources from the state budget could not be wasted on such shortcomings.

Reporting to the prime minster, Le Minh Chuan, president of the Vietnam National Coal Corporation, aired the challenges it faced in the past year, stating that the firm had suffered losses for the fourth continuous year.

Coal’s price has decreased by 50 percent, Chuan elaborated, adding that about 10 million metric tons of the material was still in stock.

Nguyen Tien Truong, general director of the Vietnam National Textile and Garment Group, said that Vietnam’s textile sector grew by only 5.6 percent in 2016, the lowest rate since 2008.

To resolve the issue, PM Phuc called on the industry sector to push forward integration while encouraging the development of high-tech agriculture to ensure the interests of local farmers.

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