PM points out threats to Vietnam’s socioeconomic growth

04:42' PM - Tuesday, 03/07/2018

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc pointed out major risks to the country’s socioeconomic growth, such as disasters, social disturbances, traffic safety violations and corruption, at a national teleconference between the Government and local administrative units today, July 2.

In his opening speech, the PM attached great importance to the assessment of the socioeconomic situation in the first half of the year, which includes not only regional and international updates but also shortcomings and threats to the management of the country, in a bid to take timely action in the remainder of the year.

The Government leader asked the teleconference participants to put forward solutions in line with the practical situation of each ministry, agency and locality.

According to him, 18 issues that are high on the Government’s list of priorities should be debated. These include inflation control, macroeconomic stability, development of supporting industries and the private sector, administrative procedure reforms, improvements in the business and investment environment, social welfare and other pressing matters.

The PM urged local governments to clarify difficulties and obstacles and asked ministers to outline their principles and measures to deal with such problems.

Looking back to the first half of the year, PM Phuc said Vietnam had achieved positive socioeconomic development in all fields, with a gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 7.08%.

He emphasized that the total spending on development projects was equal to some 33% of the GDP, while foreign direct investment rose by some 6%. The revenue collected for the State budget was up by 14%. The country gained a trade surplus of US$2.71 billion, with a year-on-year increase of 16% in exports.

There was also improvement in the domestic production capacity, with more than 54,500 newly established companies in the six-month period.

The PM underlined that social welfare was guaranteed and living standards had improved, with a significant decrease in the number of poor households and the free issuance of 22 million health insurance cards.

Such results have created an exciting business atmosphere for all social stakeholders, boosting the confidence of investors and the public alike, he added.

He quoted the results of a public opinion survey, which found that more than 71% of the respondents had noticed positive changes in external relations and international cooperation, while a staggering 91% believed in the Government’s anticorruption efforts.

High risks include natural disasters, social disorder

At the teleconference, the PM came down heavily on threats facing the country that needed appropriate and timely policies to address them.

He called for increased vigilance over natural disasters, adding that heavy floods had recently caused serious damage in the northern provinces of Lai Chau, Ha Giang and Lao Cai.

Data reveal that between January and June this year, 33 people died or were reported missing in natural disasters, while economic losses were estimated at some VND808 billion (US$35.2 million).

The maintenance of social security and order should also receive special attention, PM Phuc noted. He cited the recent social disturbances in the south-central coastal province of Binh Thuan as a lesson for all local governments.

He stressed the need to prevent bad elements from inciting others, noting that social order and security are the prerequisites to a better investment environment and socioeconomic growth.

Urgent matters such as traffic safety, food safety, school and hospital hygiene, corruption, as well as group interests also need to be addressed, the PM remarked.

“The delayed settlement of pressing social problems will affect the country’s long-term stability as well as the people’s trust,” he added.

Shortcomings in national economy

The Government leader noted the pressure of inflation in the July-December period comes from the rising prices of essential products such as fuel, food, transport and building materials.

The PM asked for specific measures to curb inflation under the National Assembly’s full-year target of 4%, given the current level of 3.29%; stabilize the macroeconomy; and boost sustainable development.

He noted the electricity price will not be increased this year, and healthcare services will have their prices lifted if all the requirements are satisfied.

He also expressed concerns over the low disbursements of public investments, though the six-month rate reached 33%, which is higher than the same period last year.

He stressed the need to achieve growth of 6.53% in the third quarter and 6.36% in the fourth quarter to fulfill the all-year GDP target of 6.7%.

“Growth is an inclusive target for us to address unemployment, increase the State budget collection and reduce public debt,” Phuc said.

HCMC in dire need of ODA funds

At the teleconference, Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, proposed the PM remove major obstacles to the city’s economic growth and move toward a smart urban area.

Phong suggested the PM direct the allocation of official development assistance (ODA) funds from the central budget to the municipal government on schedule to finance its key projects.

The city leader noted that construction work on Metro line No. 1, connecting Ben Thanh Market in District 1 with Suoi Tien Park in District 9, and the second phase of an environmental sanitation project, is being affected.

The main reason for the delay is that the municipal government is only allowed to disburse annual ODA funds as planned by the Prime Minister and the Ministry of Planning and Investment. However, such funds have failed to meet the demand, thereby affecting the execution process of these projects.

In addition, the city’s four group-A projects, which have been submitted to central agencies to decide on the public investment principle, are to be financed by the city budget.

These projects are to build three general hospitals in the Thu Duc, Cu Chi and Hoc Mon districts and to dredge the 7.5-kilometer Ba Lon Canal running through District 8 and Binh Chanh District.

To apply the National Assembly’s Resolution 54 concerning the piloting of a special mechanism for the city’s development, the city government suggested the PM give the city the go-ahead to appraise such projects and decide on their investment principles so as to speed up their execution progress. - SGT -

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