National Assembly passes $15b economic recovery package for 2022-23

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Nam Hải Đình Vũ Port in Hải Phòng, a major maritime service and shipping centre of Việt Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo An Đăng

HÀ NỘI — On the final working day of an extraordinary session, the National Assembly of Việt Nam on Tuesday voted to adopt a Government-proposed socio-economic recovery programme worth nearly VNĐ350 trillion (approximately US$15 billion) over the next two years.

Of 426 lawmakers present, 424 voted in favour of the highly anticipated resolution that is in response to a tumultuous year in which Việt Nam was hard hit by the fourth wave of COVID, necessitating stringent lockdowns that hurt the country’s economy and livelihoods. As a result, the country achieved 2.58 per cent GDP growth in 2021, the lowest in a decade.

The five major tasks stated in the resolution are: reopening the economy in tandem with enhancing healthcare capacity and pandemic preparedness (VNĐ60 trillion), ensuring social welfare and job creation (VNĐ 53.15 trillion), support for businesses and cooperatives (VNĐ 110 trillion), developing infrastructure (VNĐ 113.85 trillion), and institutional and administrative reforms and betterment of investment environment.

VAT for applicable goods and services will be cut down to 8 per cent in 2022 (down two per cent from the current rate), excluding goods and services in the following areas – telecommunications, information technology, finance and banking, insurance, stock, real estate business, metal production and mining industries (except coal), coke production, petroleum, chemicals, and commodities and services that are subject to special consumption tax.

Business expenditures that are donations to COVID-19 prevention and control efforts in Việt Nam are eligible for deductions in 2022.

A maximum of VNĐ 14trillion ($616.6 million) will be spent on building new or upgrading local-level medical facilities and regional-level centres for disease control, enhancing the pandemic preparedness of central-level medical institutes and hospitals in tandem with enhancing human resources in the healthcare sector, and boosting domestic production of COVID-19 vaccines and medicines.

Up to VNĐ46 trillion from other legal financial sources can be used to import COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutic drugs and medical equipment and supplies for COVID-19 prevention and control when necessary.

The Bank for Social Policies will be injected with VNĐ5 trillion to implement the preferential lending policy.

Investment in building, renovating, upgrading, expanding and modernising establishments/centres for social assistance, training, vocational training and job creation could reach up to VNĐ3.15 trillion.

Regarding financial support for businesses, cooperatives and business households, the Resolution states support to enable interest rate reduction (2 per cent a year) – VNĐ40 trillion maximum – will be available for loans made through commercial banks for a number of industries and fields.

This item was heavily debated during the session since its opening last week, with deputies wanting more clarity on the beneficiaries, the criteria, and oversight measures to prevent abuse and mismanagement.

The NA agreed to add up to VNĐ113.55 trillion in investment capital from the state budget for infrastructure development: transport, information technology, digital transformation, and prevention of riverbank and coastal erosion, ensuring the safety of water reservoirs, adaptation to climate change, and overcoming the consequences of natural disasters.

The resolution requires prioritising capital allocation for projects of national importance and projects on the list of medium-term public investment plans for the 2021-25 period that are being carried out. This could be completed soon but not enough capital has been allocated.

Workers with rent in industrial/manufacturing zones could receive financial support from the VNĐ6.6 trillion package (drawn from the central budget’s savings in 2021).

Around VNĐ5 trillion is reserved to enhance the country’s internet infrastructure, with one fifth to be spent to equip disadvantaged and poor students with internet connections and computers.

Another VNĐ5 trillion is to be used for technology innovation, technology incubation, commercialisation of science and technology research and development results.

Regarding monetary policy, the monetary policy tools will be synchronously and flexibly managed to contribute to the maintenance of macroeconomic stability, good control of inflation, ensuring the safety of the credit institution system and positive conditions for socio-economic recovery and development.

Credit institutions are told to continue to reduce operating costs to strive to reduce lending interest rates by about 0.5-1 per cent in 2022 and 2023, especially for priority sectors.

To fund this massive programme, NA agreed to increase the State budget deficit over the next two years by an average of 1-1.2 per cent of the year’s GDP, up to VNĐ240 trillion ($10 billion) in total.

Specifically, overspending in 2022 will increase by about 1.1 per cent of the year’s GDP, an estimated maximum of VNĐ102.8 trillion, compared to the estimates decided by the NA.

The Government will later propose an appropriate level of deficit in 2023 to submit to the NA for approval, according to Vũ Hồng Thanh, Chairman of the NA’s Economic Affairs Committee. — VNS

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