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NSFC: Annual inflation expected at 2.6%

Released at: 17:21, 14/06/2017

NSFC: Annual inflation expected at 2.6%

Image: cafef.vn

Latest NSFC report identifies trajectory for inflation this year.

by Quang Huy

Inflation this year is forecast at 2.6 per cent amid fluctuations in prices on world markets and adjustments in the cost of public services, according to the latest report from the government watchdog, the National Financial Supervisory Commission (NFSC).

While average inflation during the first five months of this year hit 4.47 per cent, the NSFC believes it will fall towards the end of the year due to stability in food and restaurant prices.

Figures from the General Statistics Office show a 0.53 per cent decline in the CPI in May against April, primarily due to sharp falls in food prices. May's CPI rose 3.19 per cent year-on-year.

Forex

The NSFC also pointed out that exchange rates will be vulnerable against high foreign currency demand due to the rising trade deficit, where Vietnam may see its trade balance change from a surplus in 2016 to a deficit of about 3.5 per cent of total exports this year. 

Its calculations show that if the VND/USD exchange rate rises 1 per cent, inflation will increase by 0.17 per cent. The US Federal Reserve raising short-term interest rates in small adjustments has yet to put pressure on the exchange rate, however. 

It’s very likely, though, that “the VND will be under pressure by the US Fed’s roadmap of raising interest rates in the long run, along with unpredictable changes in the prices of the Chinese Yuan and Japanese Yen,” the NFSC said, adding that efforts are required to ease pressure on exchange rates and drastic measures needed to tackle bad debt.

Earlier, BMI Research, a Fitch Group company, predicted that further Chinese Yuan weaknesses could prompt a slight devaluation of the VND in 2017 by the SBV to preserve export competitiveness.

By end-May, the VND was down more than 1 per cent against the USD this year, according to State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) figures.

Interest rates

Vietnam is now more eager than ever to tackle the scale of bad debts in its banking sector, especially with the amount sold to the Vietnam Asset Management Company making up 10.08 per cent of total outstanding loans by end-2016.

The government issued Decree No.61/2017 on May 16 on the verification of the initial price of bad debts and the formation of a council for bad debt auctions. A draft law on support for credit institution restructuring and bad debt settlement is also being finalized, and a decree on the settlement of credit institutions’ bad debt may be approved as soon as June 20. 

But while the NSFC report noted that measures to settle bad debts will help reduce interest rates, SBV Deputy Governor Ms. Nguyen Thi Hong made it clear in a meeting last week that lowering interest rates will remain a challenge for the central bank in 2017.

“Some commercial banks have increased interest rates on certificates of deposit and VND deposits already, mainly for terms of over 12 months,” she said, adding that by the end of last month, the central rate was up 1 per cent from the same period last year.

In a related note, the NFSC’s calculations show that the country’s ratio of credit-to-GDP has continuously increased since the last quarter of 2015, reaching 11 per cent in the first quarter of this year. This is the second highest level in the 2009-17 period, after the 13 per cent recorded in the first quarter of 2011.

At end-May, credit had risen 5.7 per cent compared to the same period last year.

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