|Farmers classify dragon fruit for export in Long An Province's Chau Thanh District. Output markets are one of the biggest challenges facing the country's agricultural sector, the Government's regular cabinet meeting heard on Saturday. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue
HA NOI (VNS) — Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung chaired the Government's regular meeting in Ha Noi on Saturday to discuss the country's socio-economic performance during the month and in the first four months of 2015.
Cabinet members agreed that Viet Nam had recorded positive changes to socio-economic development from January-April.
They discussed measures to accelerate agricultural production, expand consumption markets, speed up economic restructuring, increase the application of science and technology in business and manufacturing and foster administrative reform.
Adjustments to vaccine prices, how to increase national competitiveness and measures to promote tourism were also on the agenda.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat said that the two biggest challenges facing the sector were drought and output markets.
The ministry has carried out measures to cope with the impacts of drought, and it also wants to work closely with relevant ministries and offices to expand export markets for Viet Nam's main products such as rice, coffee, rubber, pepper and fruit.
Governor of the State Bank Nguyen Van Binh said that the central bank would continue flexible monetary policy management, stabilise the foreign currency market and prioritise credit for agriculture and rural development.
Addressing the meeting, PM Dung stressed the need for the synchronous implementation of tasks and measures in order to achieve these targets.
Priority should be given to dealing with difficulties in production and business in the fields of agriculture, industry and services, he said.
He assigned the Ministry of Industry and Trade to look at ways to boost trade promotions, expand export markets, control import activities and ensure domestic production in accordance with international practices and commitments.
Regarding tourism, the Government leader asked for a report to review the implementation of the Government's resolution on tourism development at the next meeting.
He also stressed the importance of controlling inflation and economic restructuring, with a focus on the equitisation of State-owned enterprises.
Ministries, sectors and localities were requested to speed up administrative reforms, especially in administrative procedures, in order to improve the business and investment climate, while effectively implementing measures to ensure social welfare and gain sustainable poverty reduction, particularly in extremely disadvantageous areas and those prone to disasters.
The PM emphasised the need to continuously strengthen security and defence, maintain political security, social order and safety, and actively combat all kinds of crime to ensure a peaceful life for people. He also highlighted the importance of information sharing on socio-economic affairs between ministries, localities and press agencies.
Also on Saturday, a range of matters that have heated public concern were raised at the Government's regular press briefing for April.
They included pollution from the Vinh Tan Thermal Plant No 2, slow internet due to a ruptured international cable and tax violations by some major businesses.
The event was chaired by Minister and Chairman of the Government Office and Government spokesperson Nguyen Van Nen.
Regarding the pollution at the Vinh Tan Power Thermal Plant in Binh Thuan Province, relevant authorities were asked for long-term solutions following Electricity of Viet Nam's (EVN) apology and short-term solutions to deal with the incident.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said a number of measures should be taken immediately. The cinder area must be covered and watered to prevent further dust from blowing into the surrounding area, and no more cinder should be dumped at the site located outside the plant near residential areas. Instead, any new cinder should be stored within the plant.
According to the official, a private route for transporting coal dust and cinder through the plant rather on public roads would be completed by May 30.
Anh also said that public routes had been repaired and paved with rocks to make sure that the daily lives of local residents is unaffected. The ministry had instructed EVN to check the whole process of constructing the plant, especially the design of sections related to environmental treatment to determine who was responsible for the fault.
Related to a section of the Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable connecting international internet traffic between HCM City and Hong Kong that was cut on April 23, the Ministry of Information and Communications was asked if the disruption had occurred more than once because Viet Nam had not thoroughly assessed the situation during the installation and previous repair work.
Minister of Information and Communications Nguyen Bac Son said Viet Nam was unable to construct a separate gateway and had to work with foreign partners to develop the AAG.
"Various factors affect this transaction, for instance, off-shore activities. Some countries doubt the cable disruption was an act of sabotage," said Minister Son.
"The situation heightened the need to protect the cable system as well as information infrastructure."
Son said the ministry had instructed agencies to reinforce the cable system within Viet Nam's waters as well as waters associated with foreign countries, and to build new cable systems.
According to the minister, the Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) was building two new cables to provide additional internet capacity.
In response to questions regarding tax violation by businesses including Metro and Honda Viet Nam, Deputy Minister of Finance Do Hoang Anh Tuan said tax authorities had ordered Honda Viet Nam to pay outstanding tax bill and fines of VND182 billion (US$8.4 million) and would take measures to deal with the cases in accordance with the law.
The press briefing also heard Government's officials address other issues including the missing of radio-active material from the Pomina steel mill, the State Bank of Viet Nam's purchase of Ocean Bank, and the increase of 3G fees. — VNS