By Khanh Vu
HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s economy must grow faster this year than the 2.7% forecast by the International Monetary Fund, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said on Tuesday, with economic activity resuming after a lockdown to stop the spread of the coronavirus.
Having entered a lockdown from April 1-23, Vietnam started lifting its strict restrictions on movement late last month after infections abated. It has reported 271 coronavirus cases with no deaths.
The economy grew at its slowest pace in the first quarter of this year, at 3.8%, as the new coronavirus outbreak hit economic output.
“We mustn’t allow the economy to grow at a slow pace,” Phuc said in a statement on the government website. “Only growth can help provide jobs, reduce poverty and ensure social security.”
“The IMF has forecast Vietnam’s growth at 2.7% this year, the fastest in Southeast Asia, but we must obtain a faster growth,” Phuc said.
Vietnam has previously set a target for an economic growth of 6.8% for this year, but Phuc told the government cabinet on Tuesday to consider “adjusting the 2020 targets if necessary,” according to the statement.
Phuc said the country needs to spend up to 700 trillion dong ($29.89 billion) from the state budget on infrastructure and development projects this year, and help local firms to resume their operations.
Inflation must be kept below 4% this year as previously targeted, he added.
($1 = 23,421 dong)
(Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Kim Coghill & Simon Cameron-Moore)