UPDATE 1-Vietnam announces $1.16bln stimulus package to help virus-hit firms -state media

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HANOI, March 3 (Reuters) - Vietnam plans to spend 27 trillion dong ($1.16 billion) to help businesses cope with the coronavirus epidemic and help the economy stick to its 6.8% growth target this year, state media said on Tuesday.

The plan includes tax breaks, delayed tax payments and a reduction in land lease fees, Vietnam Television (VTV) quoted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as saying.

The government would also speed up state spending on infrastructure projects, it added.

Vietnam’s central bank ordered commercial banks on Feb. 24 to eliminate, cut or delay interest payments on loans to companies facing losses due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Vietnam’s hardest-hit industries include tourism, transport, electronics, agriculture and insurance the government has said. The epidemic could wipe around $7 billion from Vietnam’s tourism earnings as international travellers stay away, state media has reported.

Vietnam last week said all 16 people in the country infected with the coronavirus had been cured and released from hospitals, and there had been no new cases in the country since Feb. 13.

Reporting by Phuong Nguyen; Editing by Alison Williams and Andrew Heavens