Civil servants, workers in state-owned enterprises and military and police personnel will earn at least 650,000 dong (36.5 dollars) per month following the decision approved by the government.

"The raise of (the) minimum salary is aimed at helping workers to overcome difficulties caused by high inflation and (the) impact of the world economic crisis," said Nguyen Thanh Quang from the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs.

Civil servants had been paid 540,000 dong per month since January last year.

The move will also give retired state employees a minimum five percent raise in their pension.

Vietnam's first-quarter inflation was almost 14.5 percent year-on-year, marking a continued easing from a record high reached last year.

First-quarter economic growth fell to 3.1 percent, the lowest level on record, the General Statistics Office said late last month.

The government may have to ask the National Assembly, the country's parliament, to reduce its growth target to five percent from the existing 6.5 percent for this year, VNExpress news website quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung as saying recently.

The International Monetary Fund has downgraded its growth forecast for Vietnam to 4.75 percent this year, while the World Bank sees 5.5 percent expansion.

However, despite the global economic downturn, Vietnam is in better shape than most Asian economies, the Asian Development Bank said last week.

Agence France Presse - April 7, 2009