Positive growth expected despite economic slide, calamities

(SGT) Nov. 16- Vietnam can still record positive growth in almost all sectors despite the adverse impact of the regional economic crisis and natural disasters on the economy, according to a Government report.

The Government is expected to present the report on the country's 1999 socio-economic performance at the sixth National Assembly sitting, which the National Assembly Office has announced will be opened on Thursday.

The report says the country will realize many economic forecasts and that performance in a number of sectors can surpass the year's targets.

Preliminary figures show that this year the nation will certainly realize 12 major economic targets approved by the Assembly.

For instance, GDP growth can reach 4.7%-5% compared to the targeted 5%-6% and the agricultural-forestry-fishery growth rate can outstrip the target by one percentage point.

Output of food converted to paddy will amount to 33.8 million tons, 1.8 million tons higher than the year's target, Industrial production will grow 10.3%-10.5%, the same as the year's target.

The service sector can record growth of between 3.5% and 3.8%. The economy will see exports surging 14.3% to US$10.7 billion, surpassing the target by US$700 million.

The State budget deficit will account for less than 5% of GDP - the level set by the Assembly. Consumer prices will likely increase around 2% on late last year.

The economy has shown signs of improvement as the Government has adopted a series of measures for reversing the economic slide in the last months of the year.

However, the Government says in the report that apart from the difficulties triggered by the natural disasters and the Asian financial meltdown, the country has not overcome the weaknesses of the economy as expected.

The country is now facing new challenges, such as the low competitiveness of the economy, growing stockpiles, redundant labor and higher investment risks.

The Government is expected to reserve 60% of the State budget for investment in technical and social infrastructure, including communications, irrigation, education, healthcare, science and technology.

Moreover, a significant proportion of the budget will be earmarked to make loans to the private sector.