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Global crisis, growing inflation threaten Vietnam's poor: U.N.

Global crisis, growing inflation threaten Vietnam's poor: U.N.

Double-digit inflation and shocks from the global financial turmoil threaten to plunge Vietnamese households living on the margins back into dire poverty, the United Nations has warned.
Despite Vietnam's economic boom of recent years, many groups remain vulnerable to food shortages - especially landless farmers, the urban poor and ethnic minority groups - said U.N. Resident Coordinator John Hendra.
While global commodity and energy prices have dropped back from their peaks this year, Vietnam's inflation, although falling, still stood at 26.7 percent this month, squeezing the family budgets of the most marginalized groups.
On top of the soaring consumer prices, Hendra said, the global financial crisis will likely impact Vietnam's export-driven economy.
"Taken together, these economic challenges threaten to derail Vietnam's progress in reducing poverty," he said in a televised national address Friday.
U.N. data showed that "less money is available to many Vietnamese households, especially poorer ones, and there is a real risk some families could fall back below the poverty line, while those already there need additional help."
"Poorer women and children are particularly at risk since higher food prices can worsen their already precarious nutritional status," he said.
Communist-ruled Vietnam, which launched its doi moi (renewal or renovation) market reforms in the late 1980s, has seen more than a decade of economic growth above 7.5 percent, lifting tens of millions out of poverty.
The developing country of 86 million joined the World Trade Organization early last year and hopes to soon become a middle-income nation with annual gross domestic product of US$1,000 per capita.
However, over the past year, Vietnam's overheating economy has been hit by double-digit inflation and other economic woes. Especially high food and petrol prices have hit the poor the hardest and fuelled social discontent.
Vietnam, the world's number-two rice exporter, does not face overall food shortages, Hendra stressed in a separate speech last week. But he warned that, while some farmers had benefitted from high global food prices, more than half of Vietnamese households are net buyers of food and have seen their real purchasing power reduced.
As a result, groups including low-skilled and landless rural workers and the elderly "are not only temporarily worse off but also challenged in their long-term ability to secure adequate intakes of food," Hendra said.
For the poorest families, higher food costs could mean cutting back on schooling for their children or healthcare.


Updated : 2021-06-13 07:22 GMT+08:00