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PM okays $226.5m bonds for rural growth

Update: February, 25/2014 - 09:02
About 250 communes, or 2 per cent of the country's communes, have met all 19 criteria. This percentage is expected to rise to 20 per cent by next year and 50 per cent by 2020.— Photo baolamdong

HA NOI (VNS)— The Prime Minister has approved the issue of Government bonds worth over VND4.7 trillion (US$226.5 million) to fund the National Target Programme on New Rural Development.

About 32 per cent of the funding will go to northern mountainous provinces, and nearly 29 per cent to central provinces. Mekong Delta provinces will get 16 per cent and 12.6 per cent will go to Red River Delta provinces. Central Highlands provinces will receive 7 per cent and southeastern provinces will get 2.7 per cent.

The national programme, approved four years ago, sets out 19 criteria covering infrastructure, production, living standards, income and culture that target localities have to meet.

It was conducted on a pilot basis in 11 communes in 2009 and since 2010, 9,052 communes have prepared plans for development under the programme.

According to the original plan, 40 per cent of programme funding would come from the State Treasury as well as city and provincial budgets, 30 per cent from loans, 20 per cent from businesses and co-operatives and 10 per cent from beneficiary communities.

In order to ensure funding for the programme, the Government has, for the first time, allocated Government bonds, said Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Tran Thanh Nam.

"This will be an important source to help localities implement the new rural model," he said, adding that during the ongoing economic slowdown, it was difficult to mobilise funding for the programme from the limited State budget, enterprises and local communities.

Infrastructure funding was a major priority, as over the last three years, many localities focused on improving their infrastructure to spur socio-economic development, Nam said.

Another goal was to create a more effective production model in order to increase incomes in rural areas.

Tang Minh Loc, head of the ministry's Department for Co-operative Economy and Rural Development, said that in previous years, the funds were divided equally among communes, but this year, disadvantaged communes and those that could potentially complete all 19 criteria next year would get priority for Government bonds.

However, he emphasised that all localities and communities should be proactive in mobilising their own resources.

Since 2011,communes nationwide have been gradually increasing their ability to meet the set criteria, and by 2015, the average is expected to rise to between 12 and 13 of the national standard.

About 250 communes, or 2 per cent of the country's communes, have met all 19 criteria. This percentage is expected to rise to 20 per cent by next year and 50 per cent by 2020.

So far, 9,000 infrastructure works worth VND30.1 trillion ($1.4 billion) have been upgraded or built in rural areas, including 38,000 kilometres of roads and 15,000 kilometres of canals.

The programme has been implemented well in the Red River Delta, Mekong Delta and north central region, but mountainous northern provinces have faced many difficulties including insufficient staff, Loc said.

While mobilising funds for the programme was difficult, it was even more difficult to manage and disburse funding effectively, he added.

Delta spends $4.36b

Meanwhile, the South-western Region Steering Committee has reported that Mekong Delta provinces have so far spent VND91.89 trillion (US$4.36 billion) on the New Rural Area Programme.

The money has been used to build roads, irrigation facilities, power lines, schools, rural market as well as, cultural, educational, health and housing facilities, it said.

Nguyen Phong Quang, Standing Deputy Director of the committee, said 2,700 classrooms were built in the delta, eliminating the need for three shifts in schools.

He said 97.5 per cent of school-age students had enrolled in primary schools, and corresponding enrollment in junior secondary schools and high schools had increased to 83.7 per cent and 54.8 per cent respectively.

The health network has been upgraded in rural areas, resulting in an improvement in overall health indicators.

The provinces have helped mitigate poverty by providing education, free health insurance, housing, vocational training, and preferential loans helping workers go abroad for jobs.

Last year over 43,000 households climbed out of poverty, and the poverty rate declined to 7.2 per cent, he said.

So far, the delta has 21 communes that have achieved 15-19 criteria, the committee reported. — VNS


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