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January 16, 2009

Vietnam approves loan subsidies to shore up economy
The Vietnamese government said on Friday it had approved a fund of 17 trillion dong ($1 billion) to subsidise interest payments on loans to companies this year as part of efforts to prevent a severe economic slowdown.

The fund would be used to pay for 4 percentage points of interest on loans to companies from all sectors, Reuters quoted the government as saying in a statement.

However, subsidised loans would not be extended to companies borrowing to pay for the import of non-essential products or for financial investments, or to cover interest payments on other loans, the statement said.

Most normal dong loans now carry annual interest rates of around 12 percent, down from around 20-21 percent in June last year after the central bank repeatedly slashed interest rates.

Hanoi has forecast economic growth would slow to as low as 6 percent from 6.23 percent last year and 8.5 percent in 2007.

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