The Prime Minister has requested cabinet members and localities intensify management over the market to ensure prices are stable, especially during the traditional New Year (Tet) festival.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung made the request while chairing the first cabinet meeting of the year in Hanoi on Jan. 28.

He reminded localities to take care of social policy beneficiaries and poor families, to help them enjoy a happy Tet festival, which falls on Feb. 3.

PM Dung asked ministries and localities to speed up production to ensure the supply of essential commodities and petrol during Tet festival and the first quarter of the year as well.

He ordered the State Bank of Vietnam to take measures to reduce interest rates gradually while ensuring a sufficient amount of hard currency for import of petrol products.

Measures to curb the trade deficit, manage product quality and food hygiene, and prevent diseases continued to be taken, the government leader said.

Discussing the country’s socio-economic performance in January, the cabinet members agreed that the government’s resolution on stabilising prices and market and promoting production has been implemented widely.

In the first month of the year, industrial production registered a growth rate of 16.1 percent.

Export value expanded 18.1 percent, higher than the 10 percent rate set by the National Assembly, to 6 billion USD, making the trade deficit level lower than December, 2010.

January also saw a surge in the number of foreign tourist arrivals, retail sales and service revenues.

Farming production, though being affected by prolonged cold spell and water shortage, remained stable while the market and inflation remained under control.

In the month, the consumer price index rose 1.74 percent, lower than the two previous months.

The same day, Minister and Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Xuan Phuc hosted the first press briefing in 2011, revealing that the PM decided to take 33,816 tonnes of rice from the national reserve to supply localities hard hit by prolonged cold weather and floods.

Stressing complicated developments in weather and animal diseases and their effects on agricultural production and people’s lives, Minister Phuc urged ministries, sectors and localities to stringently and uniformly implement measures, instructions, and social welfare policies issued by the government to ensure macro-economic stability, stabilise the market, and curb inflation./.