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Abnormalities found in statistics about Vietnam’s economyEconomists, while keeping doubtful about the statistics reported by state management agencies, have warned that if they try to “fabricate” the figures, the regulators would not know how sick the economy is to prescribe properly.

Bui Trinh, a well-known economist, at the recently held spring economic forum, mentioned the formula for calculating GDP based on the total consumption plus the investments and exports, and minus imports.

With the formula, the found GDP in the first quarter of 2013 was 4.89 percent. However, the figure is unconvincing in the eyes of economists. While the outstanding loans increased inconsiderably by 0.03 percent, but the state economic sector’s investment increased sharply by 11 percent. The unreasonable thing can be seen in the contrast between the low credit growth rate and the strong capital inflow to businesses.

“Where did the businesses, which have been relying on banks’ capital, find the capital if banks did not disburse?” he questioned.

The state management agencies announced that the export turnover increased by 19.7 percent, and that the growth rate would have been up to 25 percent if the price decrease had not been counted on. This meant that the export price decreased by 5 percent in reality.

Meanwhile, the consumer price index (CPI) in Q1 2013 has been reported by the General Statistics Office as increasing by 6.9 percent in comparison with the same period of the last year.

This can be understood that while the export price decreased by 5 percent, the domestic price increased by 6.9 percent, an unreasonable thing.

“Should we follow the export-orienting economic development strategy, if we have to sell products cheaply to the world, but sell high to domestic consumers?” Trinh questioned.

Le Dang Doanh, former Head of the Central Institute for Economic Management (CIEM), also a well-known economist, said he cannot understand why the modest credit growth rate of less than 1 percent could lead to the GDP growth rate of 5 percent.

Meanwhile, in previous years, the 6 percent GDP growth rate was obtained when the credit growth rate reached 30 percent.

“Is it true that Vietnam’s economy does not need credit to develop?” Doanh doubted.

Doanh has also raised a question about the unemployment rate in 2012, which was the deepest low over the last many years.

In 2011 and 2012, it was estimated that 100,000 businesses shut down amid the economic recession, a figure which was by far higher than that in the years before. However, the unemployment rate was abnormally low at 2.2 percent.

A report showed that 15,000 more businesses got dissolved in the first quarter of 2013. So where have the workers of the dissolved businesses gone, if noting that bankruptcies outnumber the new startups.

Analysts have noted that the actual number of enterprises suspending their operation of getting dissolved is much higher than the reported figure.

The enterprises might be the big debtors, who don’t want to make public about their dissolution to escape from the creditors. Others decided to keep silent because they were busy collecting debts from others. Meanwhile, there has been no official report about the businesses.

Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, Director of the Vietnam Economics Institute, also said that the statistics released by different agencies are surprisingly different. The GDP growth rate of the whole country, in some cases, was just equal to 2/3 of the figure reported by local authorities.


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