Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vietnam's ruling party chides leaders, signals reform

Oct 16 (Reuters) - Vietnam's ruling Communist Party has promised economic reforms and a restructuring of state firms and the banking system after a top-level meeting that criticised senior members, thought to include Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, but left them in post.

The country's banks are swimming in bad debt, much of it owed by the huge state enterprises at the heart of the economy. Moody's downgraded Vietnam last month and said bank reforms should be implemented quickly.

The central committee, the powerful body of more than 170 senior members of the Communist Party of Vietnam, "came to the decision not to discipline the collective of the Political Bureau and a comrade member of the Political Bureau", the party said in a statement on its website late on Monday.

Some analysts had forecast that Dung, prime minister since 2006, might be ousted. He has faced questions in parliament over a scandal involving state group Vinashin, a huge state shipbuilder he had championed but which almost collapsed in 2010 under $4.5 billion in debt.

Bloggers have accused him of greed, cronyism and economic mismanagement. The authorities have responded with a crackdown on dissent and three high-profile bloggers were recently jailed for up to 12 years for anti-state propaganda.

The plenum urged that the business climate should be improved and foreign investment encouraged, according to a report by the official Vietnam News Agency.

While it advocated the restructuring and renovation of the state-owned enterprises (SOEs), "the committee continued to affirm their core role", according to the report.

"Resolute adjustments must be made so that the SOEs can have appropriate structures and take the lead in scientific and technological renovation ... and maintaining the socialist orientation of the economy," it said.
However, it added that non-core investments should be ended and the state should withdraw from firms in which it holds less than 50 percent of the capital.

In addition, the SOEs "must be reorganised in the model of joint stock and limited liability companies".

The central committee also ordered amendments to the 2003 Land Law to tackle corruption, speculation and lawsuits in the interests of socio-political stability, the report said.

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