Planning and Investment Minister Nguyễn Chí Dũng. — Photo baodautu.vn
Planning and Investment Minister Nguyễn Chí Dũng tells Thời báo kinh doanh that the high spirits engendered by 2017’s impressive gains will spur socio-economic development this year and beyond.
As the leader of the State agency that recommends socio-economic development strategies and directions to the Government every year, what are your feelings about 2017, when steep challenges were overcome to achieve set targets?
With the first quarter of 2017 ending on a disappointing note, GDP growth being lowest in three years, we stepped into the second quarter greatly worried. Further low growth would have adverse impacts on the achievement of set targets, even forcing the Government to adjust its plans for the next five and ten years.
The promising third quarter made us even more anxious, actually. We would need to redouble efforts to make sure that development would continue on the right track, keeping close watch over domestic and international developments.
Also last year, for the first time ever, the Government asked us to build three separate economic development scenarios, with a focus on practicality, and a detailed and clear set of guidelines for each economic sector.
After the year-end report came out, we were relieved and in high spirits, with socio-economic development results across all fields and areas either met or surpassed targets set by the National Assembly. Policies and guidelines issued by the Government started to make a real impact, contributing to the sharp spike in economic progress, to the delight of people and enterprises alike.
What do you deem Việt Nam’s most impressive achievement last year?
The leadership of the Party and the State as well as concentrated efforts from the whole political system made it a special year when the country witnessed a remarkable transformation, setting a solid base for further successes in 2018 and the coming years.
There are three achievements I consider to be the highlights of last year. First, it’s the fact that for the first time after so many years, we have met all 13 targets set by the National Assembly, creating favourable conditions for the next five to ten years.
Second, Việt Nam’s standing and reputation in the international community and in the region has been elevated to new heights.
Third, people and enterprises’ trust in the guidance of the Party and the State, and in a bright future for a new chapter of development for the country has been reinforced. Our achievements have rekindled a passionate sense of pride, patriotism, and self-confidence to propel us forward to a prosperous future.
What is your assessment of the development opportunities and challenges for Việt Nam currently?
We still have a range of issues to deal with.
First, we must be vigilant about complicated global economic developments, now that trade protectionism has made a worrying comeback.
Next, it will take a lot of time and efforts to clear up our is our economy’s inherent weaknesses.
And the last obstacles are the risks of backwardness, inability to climb out of the middle-income trap, and failure to realise our ambition to become a modern industrialised country by 2020.
This is not to mention other pressing issues such as climate change, poverty, low per capita income, and limited readiness for Industry 4.0.
What I mentioned above are the biggest challenges that Việt Nam has been facing, and these assume greater proportions when the pace of economic restructuring and the implementation of the ‘three strategic breakthroughs’ (further bettering Socialist-oriented-market economy institutions, developing high-quality human resources, and developing well-planned infrastructure) have been slow and underwhelming.
That said, I believe the momentum of 2017’s positive gains will last well into 2018, with many policies that have been in place for many years starting to yield results.
The advent of Industry 4.0 is a considerable challenge for Việt Nam, but it could also be a chance for us to cut shorten the development gap between ourselves and other countries.
In the coming time, how should we continue to push for institutional reforms and improvement of the business environment to attract more resources for socio-economic development?
Tapping the resources from people, the society, and foreign investment in an optimal manner, and moving from heavy State management to a ‘facilitating State,’ are key factors in striving to create a more open, attractive business environment.
And in this scheme, public or State resources should only be considered a ‘guiding force.’
In recent years, people have expressed concerns over the burgeoning shares of foreign direct investment (FDI) sector in the economy, accounting for 70 per cent of total export-import value, which would affect our goal of being a self-sustaining economy goal.
However, we need to take a more objective look at the big picture and remove our bias against the FDI sector.
To bridge the gap between FDI enterprises and domestic ones, we must not stifle the growth of FDI enterprises. Instead we need to design appropriate policies that will help domestic enterprises approach their FDI counterparts’ level, enhance their ties, complement each other’s strengths, and reduce weaknesses to take part in global value chain.
Beginning this year, the Government has issued Resolution 01/NQ-CP on the implementation of socio-economic development tasks for the year, which has been seen as the ‘lodestar’ for the Government’s activities this year. Can you tell us about the guidelines set forth in this decision?
The Government’s Resolution 01 is the crystallisation of the Party and National Assembly’s resolutions on socio-economic development, featuring nine sets of focal solutions, 59 missions and 242 detailed tasks for each sector, locality, and State agency.
The main goal of the resolution is to stabilise the macro economy, restructure the economy, and implement the three breakthroughs identified earlier. In addition, we will target significant progress in other fields like the environment, social affairs, administrative reforms, and anti-corruption campaigns. — VNS