Target programme for ethnic minority requires active engagement from all stakeholders: Minister

July 01, 2023 - 07:03
Minister-Chairman of Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs Hầu A Lềnh spoke to Thời Đại (Times) Newspaper about various aspects of the National target programme for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas from 2021 to 2030
Minister-Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs Hầu A Lềnh. VNA/VNS Photo

Minister-Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Minorities Affairs Hầu A Lềnh spoke to Thời Đại (Vietnam Times) magazine about various aspects of the national target programme for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas from 2021 to 2030.

In the context that the economy is facing current difficulties, how do you evaluate the undesirable effects on the implementation of the national target programme for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas?

In 2020, the National Assembly approved the official investment policy for environmental protection in Resolution 120/2020/QH14. After the resolution was issued, the Government assigned the ministries and branches to institutionalise it with a system of documents. from governmental decree, prime ministerial decisions to guiding circulars of relevant ministries and sectors. At that time, the implementation was very smooth because everything was calculated and planned in detail.

However, over the past two years (2021-2022), we have encountered numerous unforeseen circumstances. Firstly, the COVID-19 pandemic has had profound impacts on our nation, disrupting various aspects of our economy and society. Secondly, the escalation of international conflicts has also significantly affected the Vietnamese economy, adding to the challenges we face.

Therefore, some targets and objectives of the programme need to be reviewed and adjusted to be more suitable given the current context.

In fact, right after the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government had an economic recovery programme, including many direct support activities for people and businesses. If it is not reviewed, it may lead to duplication of policies and duplication of beneficiaries.

To which agency is this review assigned?

The review will be directed by the programme management agencies, and the beneficiaries, which are the localities, will carry out the review process based on the guidance provided by the ministries and sectors. They will carefully assess each content and project to determine what adjustments are necessary and then propose them to the authorities. At the central level, the National Target Programmes Steering Committee will receive specific reports. Subsequently, a classification will be made to identify matters falling under the decision-making authority of the National Assembly.

The Government will report to the National Assembly for policy adjustments in such cases. For matters falling within the Prime Minister's competence and responsibility, the ministries and sectors will advise the Prime Minister accordingly.

Currently, the Prime Minister has given directives, and the ministries and sectors will conduct the review in July. The implementation time will be limited to only one month to ensure timely reporting to the National Assembly.

Does the review affect the implementation of projects?

The review does not cause any interruption to ongoing projects, which continue to progress as usual. It's important to understand that the programme is a long-term undertaking that extends beyond just this year or the next. Therefore, all projects are being carried out simultaneously.

I have emphasised many times that although the total investment is substantial, there are numerous projects, so the scale of each project is relatively small, and the implementation time is sufficient. There is no need to worry about projects not being completed.

The current stage focuses on finalising the legal documents. Afterwards, based on these documents, the localities will proceed with the deployment of the programme. It's crucial to understand the overall goals and the proper approach for the successful execution of the programme.

You said it is important to understand the execution of the programme. Can you elaborate on this?

Let’s consider the analogy of building a house. Ideally, it may take six months to complete a house for an individual. So, why should we impose unnecessary pressure to finish the house within the first or second quarter of a specific year? Such a mindset is incorrect because, according to customs and traditions, households may choose the appropriate time to build a house based on factors such as age, weather conditions, and agricultural considerations.

For instance, the Dao ethnic people may prefer to build their houses at the end of the year, while the Mông ethnic people may choose a dry period or a time that doesn't interfere with their crops. Therefore, to carry out this task effectively, besides political determination, it requires cultural understanding in various regions. It's not just a matter of administrative solutions.

At the moment, which issue worries you the most in the implementation of the programme?

In terms of policy, it has been relatively comprehensive, encompassing subjects, areas, and fields. It has also addressed many concerns and desires of the people today. However, what worries me the most is the practical implementation process. This programme is not a task that can be accomplished by a single unit or agency alone; it requires the involvement of the entire political system, combining direction, execution, consultation, and coordination among various agencies.

The second concern is how to mobilise the active participation of the people. In addition to promoting awareness through disseminating guidelines and policies, it is crucial for individuals to truly understand the issues at hand. They need to comprehend not only their rights but also their responsibilities and obligations.

This understanding will empower them to fully develop self-reliance and take care of themselves in partnership with the state. Some tasks, such as preserving the cultural identities of ethnic groups, can only be accomplished by the people of those communities. The state can provide support through mechanisms and policy frameworks to facilitate and create an enabling environment for such endeavours.

Therefore, it is necessary to instil a sense of pride in people regarding their identity and what they possess. This pride will motivate them to proactively contribute. However, achieving this requires coordination between the state and the people, rather than being a one-sided effort. I believe that when the people support, agree, take pride in, and have self-awareness about this programme, its policies will succeed. It's important to note that this is not a conventional welfare policy where assistance flows solely from one side to the other; it requires active engagement and collaboration from all stakeholders.

Regarding the current public investment, many localities have expressed concerns about the cumbersome procedures that consume a significant amount of preparation time, directly impacting project progress. In order to ensure the most effective implementation of the programme, what changes do you believe should be made to streamline procedures and shorten the implementation process?

The current regulations are clear, but when applied in practice, some procedures still prove to be cumbersome. The issues that arise are not necessarily problems with the laws themselves, but rather with the guiding documents. The intention behind setting these rules was to achieve synchronisation, but practical challenges have emerged.

In addressing this matter, we cannot definitively identify which procedures are problematic and which are not. The government is currently conducting a comprehensive review. Specifically for the environmental programme, the National Assembly has already indicated that for each specific programme, there should be corresponding policies. If any specific policy requires adjustments to align with the law, it can be proposed to the government and the National Assembly accordingly.

In urgent and practical situations, pilot policies may be necessary.

Policies need to be highly adaptable and flexible. Therefore, aspects such as policy communication, policy adjustment, and policy responsiveness across all levels and sectors are of great importance. The central government should not only consider local demands but also have a comprehensive understanding of the realities on the ground. It is essential to avoid knee-jerk reactions while also avoiding excessive perfectionism. The key to policy adjustment lies in openness, transparency, and consensus-building, particularly with the stakeholders who are subject to those policies.

The successful implementation of the national target programme for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in the 2021-2030 period does not solely rely on the efforts of the Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs. What do you hope and expect from the political system in terms of sharing responsibility in the implementation process?

Ethnic affairs and ethnic policies are fundamental and long-term strategic tasks entrusted to us by the Party and State. These policies are reflected not only in the guidelines set by the Party and the legal policies of the State but also in the involvement of various levels and sectors. Ethnic policies encompass multiple dimensions and extend beyond the jurisdiction of a specific agency or field. Therefore, the implementation of ethnic minority policies necessitates the participation of the entire political system, starting from leadership in establishing guidelines, making policy decisions, providing guidance, and coordinating the implementation and evaluation processes.

First and foremost, we must adhere to the Party's guidelines and the policies that are issued, as they serve as the foundation in this regard. Building upon the legal framework, it is crucial to coordinate and carry out the implementation work among ministries and sectors, which is of utmost importance.

These tasks need to be executed synchronously, consistently, and concurrently. Our primary focus is on ethnic minority areas, ethnic minorities, disadvantaged villages, communes, and districts.

Although the target audience remains the same, and the geographical areas are consistent, the policies themselves vary significantly. Coordination is necessary to ensure that these policies can interact with one another effectively. To achieve this, synchronisation and integration of policies are essential. This entails close coordination on content, processes, implementation timelines, methods of direction and operation, as well as inspection, supervision, and reporting mechanisms. Overall, comprehensive coordination is crucial for us to maximise the desired impact. VNS