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UPDATE 1-Vietnam confirms Nguyen Thi Hong as first female central bank governor

(Recasts, adds details, economist comment)

HANOI, Nov 12 (Reuters) - Vietnam’s National Assembly on Thursday ratified the appointment of Nguyen Thi Hong as new governor of the country’s central bank, selecting a woman for the top job for the first time in its seven-decade history.

Hong, 52, was the only candidate nominated for the post and has worked at the State Bank of Vietnam (SBV) since 1991, becoming its deputy governor in 2014.

Her appointment was backed by 97% of the legislature and was widely anticipated, with Reuters last month reporting the possibility of the move.

She replaces Le Minh Hung, who has moved to a senior role in the ruling Communist Party.

Hong faces the challenge of keeping bad debt in the banking system under control amid the COVID-19 pandemic and an ongoing investigation by the United States into whether Vietnam had been undervaluing its dong currency.

“Hong is an experienced central bank official and I’m confident that she will be able to handle the new job pretty well,” Ho Chi Minh City-based economist Le Tham Duong said.

Duong said the SBV would continue to focus on maintaining macro stability, adding that it has sufficient room to adjust its monetary policies in a flexible manner to steer the economy through the coronavirus pandemic.

“The foreign exchange reserves are at a record high and the central bank has ample room to adjust its policy rates,” Duong said. (Reporting by Khanh Vu; Editing by Martin Petty)

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