Cut back on meetings and trips, government offices told

By Sen    April 12, 2020 | 08:50 pm PT
Cut back on meetings and trips, government offices told
Container trucks cross Vietnam’s Kim Thanh Border Gate No.2 with China in the northern province of Lao Cai, February 16, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.
Vietnam can save at least VND700 billion ($29.6 million) if official agencies reduce official trips and conferences to ease pandemic-hit budget strains.

Revealing this estimate, the Finance Ministry proposed Friday that central and local governments cut down at least 30 percent of money spent on conferences and local work trips and 50 percent on overseas work trips this year.

A report on the government portal said central government agencies alone could save between VND600-700 billion ($25.3-29.6 million) under the proposal.

Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung said state budget revenues would fall by between VND140-150 trillion ($6-6.3 billion) if the Covid-19 disease was contained in the second quarter.

Dung's estimate is dramatically larger than the previous one made by the Ministry of Planning and Investment in late February which said the coronavirus epidemic could hit state budget revenues to the tune of VND42.3 trillion ($1.82 billion) if the disease was contained by the end of the second quarter.

The epidemic-induced economic downturn and huge drop in crude oil prices were factors in the revenue loss, the minister noted. The government also has to adjust state budget collection policies, including tax breaks and fee cuts to help companies and businesses cope with the Covid-19 crisis, he said.

Vietnam has allocated VND16.2 trillion ($685 million) to combat the Covid-19 epidemic in the country. More than half of this amount ($407 million) has been spent on purchasing medical equipment and materials. Expenses for these items are expected to increase, depending on future developments.

Vietnam has also spent VND6.7 trillion ($283 million) on providing allowances for people working on the frontline of the Covid-19 fight, meals for people in quarantine facilities and medical treatment for those with underlying conditions.

The government has also allocated VND62 trillion for a financial support package for poor people and businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Finance Ministry said the national budget will endure further losses if Vietnam’s GDP growth falls to below five percent.

Vietnam’s GDP growth hit was roughly 3.82 percent in the first quarter, the lowest since 2010, due to the coronavirus, according to the General Statistics Office. Last year, GDP growth was 7.02 percent, the second highest in the last decade, after a record 7.08 percent in 2018.

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