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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs        16  May 2011

Vietnamese businesses face 20 percent interest rate

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Businesses are facing a million-dollar question these days: whether to continue to borrow from banks since interest rates have gone through the roof.

A garment businessman in HCM City says he went to several banks this month for a loan and the lowest rate offered was 23 percent. At these rates, even if he toils hard, he may not break even. A rubber industry executive says not only has he had to delay several long-term investments but also slash output this year by around 20 percent due to lack of funds.

"How can enterprises dare borrow at such high interest rates?" asks Huynh Van Minh, chairman of the HCM City Business Association.

Without being able to borrow, businesses will not invest in modern equipment, he says, and as a result, soon their competitiveness will be weakened.

Le Xuan Nghia, deputy chairman of the National Financial Supervisory Commission, blames high inflation for the high interest rates. The year-on-year inflation in the first four months was 17.5 percent, meaning the official cap of 14 percent for dong deposits is not appropriate.

Many small banks have, in violation of the regulation, pushed up the rate to 18-19 percent, but even that is lower than the 22-25 percent bigger banks offer them on the inter-bank market.

Yet, dong deposits as of April 21 were down by 1.84 percent from a month earlier, according to the State Bank of Viet Nam.

The Viet Nam Asset Management, in its April report, predicted that, given the continuing inflationary pressures, interest rates will not come down at least till the end of the third quarter.

But it also sees some positives. For instance, the Government has repeatedly sent clear signals that inflation control is a higher priority than growth. It has revised the GDP growth target for this year down to 6-6.2 percent from the earlier 6.5-7 percent.

This time the Government has also shown strong determination that it will not prematurely ease policy as it did in the past. "We expect further tightening of credit and public spending if inflation [does not ease]," says the report.

"Hence, we think inflation will eventually be controlled but it will take more time." Analysts expect to see improvement in inflation towards the end of Q3 when the Government's measures show clearer effects.

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
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It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More


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