The cabinet meeting on March 21 and April 1 reported that the inflation rate in March was kept at 0.16 percent, the lowest level since the same period last year. According to cabinet members, the target of a single digit inflation rate is within reach if no major fluctuations occur.
The macroeconomy-related indexes also showed positive signs thanks to stable foreign exchange rates, gradually falling interest rates, improved bank liquidity, the recovery of the securities market, and increasing foreign currency reserves. Export earnings hit US$24.5 billion, 24 percent more than in March last year, while the import surplus fell sharply, accounting for 1 percent of the total export turnover.
The number of international tourists to Vietnam reached 1.9 million, up 24.5 percent over last March. Total social investment rose 12.8 percent compared the same quarter last year while US$2.52 billion in direct foreign investment (FDI) was disbursed.
During the reviewed period, more than 341,000 new jobs were created and social welfare policies and measures to promote preventive medicine, ensure food hygiene and safety and prevent the spread of bird flu were implemented properly. Meanwhile, ministries, sectors and localities took measures to ensure traffic order and safety, thus helping to reduce accident-related deaths and casualties.
According to Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung and cabinet members, even though economic growth remained at 4 percent in the first quarter of 2012, it was still lower than recorded in the corresponding period in previous years due to the reduction of outstanding credit to the national economy and the large volume of stockpiled products.
As many as 15,300 new businesses were established in the first quarter while more than 2,200 were dissolved and about 9,700 others registered to temporarily halt operations or stop their tax payments. Industrial production value over the past three months rose 4.1 percent, less than half that in the same period last year. The problem for this sector was is attributed to the implementation of tightened monetary policies. The PM said that these are two aspects of the matter that need to be dealt with soon in order to boost economic development.
In this spirit, PM Dung asked the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) to continue managing the monetary policy and flexible interest rates in line with the set targets to control inflation, increase outstanding credit, ensure liquidity, restructure nine weak banks, reduce interest rates and stabilize foreign exchange rates.
To maintain economic growth of 6 percent this year, PM Dung asked ministries, sectors and localities to iron out snags in production and business activities as well as administrative procedures. In addition to lowering interest rates and offering tax incentives, there should also be mechanisms for encouraging the exploration of the domestic market to bring Vietnamese goods to rural areas and expand foreign markets to boost exports.
The Government leader also underlined the need to remove obstacles for small and medium-sized enterprises and ensure sufficient capital for agricultural production, as well as processing and exporting agricultural products, to increase agricultural growth by 2-3 percent.
Mr Dung also asked the Ministry of Planning and Investment to mobilize government bond sourced capital and other capital sources quickly to speed up the disbursement of ODA.
Ministries, sectors and localities should implement policies and programmes effectively to ensure social welfare and political security, develop healthcare and education, reduce poverty, create jobs, prevent traffic congestion and combat distorted allegations from hostile forces, he said.
He asked the Government Inspectorate to coordinate with local administrations to handle ongoing complaints through direct dialogues with the people to protect their legal interests.
At the meeting, cabinet members heard a draft report on a project to restructure the national economy by shifting the growth model and increasing its efficiency, productivity and competitiveness in the 2011-2015 period with a vision towards 2020.
They also gave opinions on the strategy to develop science and technology in the 2012-2020 period, aiming to make Vietnam a modern industrialized nation and one of the three leaders of ASEAN in science and technology by 2020.
Cabinet members also discussed issues related to the criteria and scope of key national projects as well as supplementary reports on the 2011 and 2012 budgets, and gave opinions on some important draft laws.