Vietnam National Assembly green lights socio-economic development plan

HA NOI (VNS)— Members of the National Assembly yesterday adopted the 2013 socio-economic development plan by a majority vote of 91.77 per cent.

Under the plan, the macro-economy will be stabilized and inflation reduced. The plan also sets out how to provide better management of social welfare and to strengthen national defence and social order.

GDP growth has been set at 5.5 per cent compared to 6 to 6.5 per cent for the present year. The plan outlines hopes to increase exports by 10 per cent while keeping the trade deficit at about 8 per cent.

The State budget deficit has been set below 4.8 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), similar to last year. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) has been set at 8 per cent, about 2 per cent less than this year's target of 10 per cent.

Social development capital will be about 30 per cent of GDP, 3 per cent lower than the 2012 target.

The NA also agreed to create about 1.6 million jobs in 2013, similar to this year, and to reduce the number of poor households by 2 per cent and poor districts by 4 per cent.

Urban unemployment rate has been targeted at 4 per cent – again, the same as for 2012.

To realize these targets, the NA has called for closer ties between fiscal and monetary policies in mobilizing resources for economic growth and in restraining inflation.

Solutions also include tackling the difficulties in raising money for businesses by reducing loan-interest rates for agricultural activities or export production, reducing bad debts – and adopting policies to help break the frozen real-estate market. The development plan also calls for stricter control over the quality of infrastructure work.

The NA also said that to reduce the trade deficit, Viet Nam had to promote export activities while reducing the importation of luxury goods.

It said all Vietnamese should be encouraged to buy goods made in the nation and implement thrifty practices if called on to use State money for any activities, including festivals, meetings or overseas business trips.

Educational reform, preventive health and salary reform remain important considerations under the plan, as is fighting corruption, ensuring food safety and making administrative reforms.

Deputy Nguyen Van Tien from the southern province of Tien Giang agreed with the Standing Committee's plan to focus on matters of urgency that concern the people. "Many supervision reports show only figures that lack of deep analysis and evaluation from independent organizations and voters," said Tien.

Deputy Le Lam from central Thanh Hoa Province said that since 2006, the NA had spent a lot of time each year discussing forest management and protection. However, he said the results left a lot to be desired.

"Illegal loggers have been attacking the country's last forest areas, but we have failed to provide protection on time and effectively," said Lam.

Lam proposed that the NA stop supervising what it had done, but leave it to ministries, sectors and localities who could then report to the NA.

Deputy Tran Du Lich from HCM City said he had joined many NA supervision delegations visiting localities and that many good results had resulted. However, he said supervision reports should not only gather information from localities but also opinions from local people.

To improve the quality of the reports, Lich proposed increasing the number of independent consulting experts while limiting those from ministries and the sector.

Deputy Le Thanh Van from northern Hai Phong Port City asked the NA Standing Committee to assess the NA supervision delegations' operation methods and increase the strength of the delegations.

Deputy Phung Van Hung from northern Cao Bang Province agreed, saying thousands of citizens' complaints were sent to the NA and its delegations, but there were no statistics showing how many had been resolved by supervision.

Disaster measures

In the afternoon, NA deputies shared comments on the draft Law on Disaster Risk Reduction and the revised Law on Science and Technology in separated group discussions.

Most agreed that the introduction of the law on disaster risk reduction would help localize international conventions signed by Viet Nam.

The draft law also embodied the country's renewed policy on the issue by shifting focus from disaster response to prevention and management.

Deputies agreed that the State should play a key role in disaster risk reduction rather than "supporting" work in the area as outlined in the draft law.

Deputy Hoang Dang Quang from central Quang Binh Province said the State's role would mean administrations from local levels would guide all tasks in disaster reduction and control, particularly in ensuring strategies on risk reduction were integrated into socio-economic development plans.

Many deputies suggested that the law should stipulate how the State would finance work on disaster risk reduction, how to designate land where residents are too vulnerable to disasters while also clarifying the duties of armed forces and other agencies in search and rescue efforts.

Other deputies voiced concerns over the need to clearly define which agency should be responsible for weather forecasts and ways to ensure these forecasts were as accurate as possible.

Deputy Ha Ngoc Chien from the northern province of Cao Bang called for domestic forecasters to improve their work.

In regards to the law on science and technology, most deputies agreed that the legislation needed to be revised and updated as it had been in force for 12 years.

Deputy Dinh Thi Huong Lan from Cao Bang Province said that over the years, many individuals and organizations had used money earmarked for scientific studies for other purposes, leaving a great deal of scientific research unfinished.

She highlighted the need to have incentives to encourage quality work by scientists and researchers.

She also suggested more open policies towards researchers and scientists from overseas countries, and more opportunities for local scientists to gain experiences from abroad. — vns

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