At a crossroads in the mids when the economy was moribund, liberalisation that unleashed individuals and industries made Vietnam into a rising star. Proponents of major change hope it might unfold like Doi Moi did, as a process; Doi Moi was launched in but did not accelerate until the early s, and over time Vietnam transformed from a post-war basket case to a budding regional powerhouse. Inflation has surged well above 20 percent twice in the past three years while foreign exchange reserves have slumped and the Vietnamese dong has lost more than 20 percent against the dollar.
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Foreign direct investment pledges have slumped, dropping 22 percent this year so far from the same part in The economy would be stuck behind and the faith of the people would decrease. Talk on reform has advanced since the summer.
Some proposals on the table have the potential to fundamentally change the relationship between government and business and reshape the economy. Government ministries have been told how to restructure themselves, and SOEs have been told to shrink holdings in non-core businesses. In September, the Finance Ministry proposed that the government compel state-owned firms to return 50 percent of their profits to the state and slash investments in non-core fields including banking, insurance and securities to 10 percent from up to 30 percent.
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Officials have signaled that the long-clogged pipeline of initial public offerings will reopen, and chunks of major SOEs not previously on the block will be sold, although timing is unclear given poor market conditions. The government is also considering selling SOEs in industries where private and foreign-invested businesses are performing well, including seafood, textiles and coffee while retaining ownership in transport, oil and gas, and power.
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On October 24, the prime minister ordered creation of an advisory committee for monetary and fiscal policy. Also, the State Bank of Vietnam is working to avert a banking crisis by orchestrating consolidation of the crowded sector. Prime Minister Dung has asked the SBV to draft a plan for restructuring the commercial banking system.
Whether the initiatives bear fruit may hinge on how united the leadership is and how much interest groups such as SOEs drag their feet. Trong, the party leader, is a clear supporter of action.
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Sources say President Truong Tan Sang, another party heavyweight, has also been talking up a new reform agenda. Going for Growth highlights the structural reforms needed to restore long-term growth in the wake of the crisis. For each OECD country and, for the first time, six key emerging economies Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Russia and South Africa , five reform priorities are identified that would be most effective in delivering sustained growth over the next decade. The analysis shows that many of these reforms could also assist much-needed fiscal consolidation and contribute to reducing global current account imbalances.
The internationally comparable indicators provided here enable countries to assess their economic performance and structural policies in a wide range of areas. In addition, this issue contains three analytical chapters covering hsing policies, te efficiency of health care systems and the links between structural policies and current account imbalances.