Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — The government had approved VNĐ2 trillion (US$90 million) in emergency aid to help the Mekong Delta provinces recover from severe drought and saltwater intrusion.
However, not a penny from the fund has been disbursed because the concerned ministries failed to reach an agreement over the disbursement.
Minister-head of Government Office Mai Tiến Dũng criticised the ministries of planning and investment and agriculture for the slow disbursement when he met ministry leaders yesterday.
Dũng, who is also head of the newly established team to inspect government bodies’ implementation of the prime minister’s orders, said that Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc wanted to build a government of action to serve people to the fullest during his term.
Any policy and commitment should be translated into action and the implementation by the concerned parties would be closely supervised, he said.
Dũng said while approving the drought relief aid, the PM had wanted immediate action including disbursement and simplified procedures.
“However, the affected farmers have not received any assistance, their crops have died of water shortage, while the ministries failed to reach an agreement over disbursement after various meetings,” he said.
“If the funds had been disbursed in May and June, they could have had a positive effect,” he said.
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyễn Chí Dũng said the ministry wanted to allocate VNĐ80 billion ($3.6 million) on average to each province that suffered from drought and saltwater intrusion this year.
If they had been disbursed, the funds could have helped in the dredging of reservoirs and channels to transport water to fields.
However, the minister said the agriculture and rural development ministry wanted to spend the funds on ongoing projects that faced a financial crunch.
The serious drought and saltwater intrusion – the worst of its kind in Việt Nam in almost a century - occurred from the middle of March till May in the southern part of the central regions, the Central Highlands and the Mekong Delta region.
It is estimated that nearly 250,000ha of paddy fields have dried up, and Việt Nam’s rice output is likely to fall this year for the first time since 2005.
The Mekong Delta’s winter-spring output fell 10.2 per cent from last year, but the total production could fall by just 1.5 per cent to touch 44.5 million tonnes this year.
In the Central Highland region and south-eastern provinces, 16,000ha and 28,000ha, respectively, of commercial crops such as rubber, coffee and pepper suffered from water shortages.
The drought and saltwater intrusion has cost Việt Nam an estimated VNĐ15 trillion (US$670 million) so far this year in agricultural losses, according to a government report in late May. — VNS