Vietnam aiming for seven to eight pct growth: state media

HANOI, August 14, 2008 (AFP) – The Vietnamese government has targeted economic growth of seven to eight percent in 2009 and aims to win its fight against soaring inflation, state media said Thursday. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on Wednesday asked officials to draw up a plan to achieve the growth objective, and to bring inflation back to “single digits by the end of 2009,” the Tin Tuc daily reported.

Inflation surged to an annual rate of 27 percent in July after rocketing food and fuel costs saddled Vietnam with one of Asia’s toughest battles against rising prices.

State-run oil firms hiked petrol prices by 31 percent in July, and thousands of workers staged a strike this month demanding higher wages to match the rising cost of living.

The government has said fighting inflation is its top priority. It has raised interest rates and taken other steps to limit credit growth, as well as lowering its 2008 economic growth target to seven percent from 8.5 percent.

Vietnam was once widely hailed as Asia’s next economic tiger, but has been battered by the surge in inflation, a ballooning trade gap, tumbling share prices and worries about the banking sector and its currency, the dong