Vietnam inflation hits six-month high: government

Vietnamese inflation picked up to the fastest pace in six months in November, official data showed Saturday, adding to the economic challenges facing the country's Communist rulers.

Consumer prices gained an estimated 7.08 percent this month from a year earlier, following a 7.0-percent rise in October, according to the General Statistics Office. It was the sharpest increase since May.

Month-on-month, prices edged up 0.47 percent in November.

"The government is really struggling to curb inflation while pushing economic growth," said a senior manager at one of Vietnam's major private banks who did not want to be named.

Vietnam struggled with double-digit price rises for years but after a string of interest rate hikes by the central bank to prevent the economy from overheating, annual inflation dropped to a three-year low of around 5.0 percent in August, well off a peak of 23 percent seen a year earlier.

The authorities have since changed tack in response to slowing economic growth, cutting interest rates five times since the start of 2012.

The communist country expects economic growth of just 5.2 percent for 2012 -- the slowest rate in 13 years.

Vietnam is also grappling with falling foreign direct investment and rising fears about toxic debts in the fragile banking system.

Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung admitted last month that his government had made mistakes in its stewardship of the troubled economy and had "learned our lesson".

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