Government's monthly meeting for September and ecomonic growth after 9 months of 1999

Nhan dan Oct. 5-- At the government's monthly meeting for September, ministers announced that Vietnam's economic growth may not reach its 1999 target and could be the lowest in ten years.

Despite the impressive achievement of reducing the number of poor households nationwide by 400,000, shortcomings reviewed at the meeting were the poor performance of the economy, complicated developments in trade fraud and other social vices. The government said there are chances that several important economic targets set in the beginning of the year were unlikely to be realised as planned. Problems concerning technology, management and the internal market remained unresolved. Foreign investment dropped while domestic investment remained small scale. This is partly due to the small volume of capital raised from the public for domestic investment.

The meeting discussed strategy for international economic co-operation focussing on Vietnam's competitive edge on exports.

The two-day meeting, chaired by Prime Minister Phan Van Khai and his five deputies, heard reports by Planning and Investment Minister Tran Xuan Gia and Finance Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung reviewing overall implementation of the 1999 plan and proposing a plan for 2000.

It is also noted that despite severe difficulties, particularly in industrial production, trade and tourism, positive signs have been seen in the country's socio-economic development. Farmers throughout the country harvested bumper crops, and export value and state budget revenues increased. Gross domestic product (GDP) rose 4.1% in the first quarter, 4.5% in the second quarter, and over 5% in the third quarter. Estimated GDP growth this year was put at 4.7% to 5%.

In his closing speech, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said that economic integration is a must but national independence and sovereignty and higher efficiency of socio-economic activities must be maintained. He isolated the internal economic strength of each country as a decisive factor for its integration.

Improving national economic performance and people's quality of life, especially those in poor areas will be the major points of next year's plan.

The PM added that special attention should be paid to appropriate investment, focussing on areas of greatest potential, thereby restructuring the economy, and the economic and social infrastructure.