Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — National Assembly (NA) deputies on Friday noted that the country had recorded impressive socio-economic growth, but the government should continue to take action to address long-existing shortcomings.
They were discussing a report on the implementation of socio-economic development and State budget plans for 2017 and the first months of 2018, as well as the ratification of the 2016 State budget balance during the ongoing fifth session of the 14th NA session in Hà Nội.
The country recorded a GDP growth rate of 6.8 per cent in 2017, and the figure reached 7.38 per cent in the first quarter of this year. Some 12 of the 13 socio-economic targets for 2017 were fulfilled.
The fight against corruption and wastefulness also achieved encouraging results, satisfying people across the country, said Deputy Nguyễn Hữa Cầu from central Nghệ An Province.
However, many deputies raised concerns about the shortcomings in 2017’s socio-economic development, particularly with regard to outstanding debts incurred by infrastructure construction projects, wastefulness in public investment and obstacles in implementing the Law on Public Investment.
According to the State Audit report, outstanding debts in infrastructure construction reached more than VNĐ14.6 trillion (US$648 million) in 2017. As a result, the deputies proposed that the Government review and adjust relevant regulations to prevent further debts.
The deputies also pointed out that according to the Law on Public Investment, surpassing approved total investment capital is not allowed. However, the supervision found that the survey, design and consultant capacity of many projects was limited, leading to an increase in invested capital. Therefore, the Government should review the public projects and take measures to prevent the problem.
Deputy Vũ Thị Lưu Mai from Hà Nội said regarding Official Development Assistance (ODA) mobilisation, the VNĐ300 trillion ($13.1 billion) upper limit for ODA loan disbursements in the 2016-2020 medium-term pubic investment plan was breached.
According to the Ministry of Finance, the figure was exceeded by close to VNĐ173 billion.
“It is likely to exceed the permitted level and will affect the ’safety of public debt.’ Therefore, we propose the Government report this isusue to the NA, so as to adjust the medium-term public investment plan as soon as possible,” she said.
Regarding the slow disbursement of public capital for infrastructure construction in 2017 and the first months of 2018, deputy Nguyễn Thanh Xuân from the Mekong Delta province of Cần Thơ said the disbursement of capital from the State budget and government bonds reached 86.8 per cent and 45 per cent, respectively, in 2017. This will definitely affect key national projects such as Long Thành International Airport, the North-South Expressway and the Trung Lương-Mỹ Thuận-Cần Thơ Expressway, he said.
As a result, it can cause cost overruns and impact the socio-economic development, he added.
He proposed the Government analyse the core reasons for the slow disbursement and seek reasonable solutions to speed up capital disbursement to prevent similar problems in the future and help complete investment projects as scheduled.
NA deputies in the afternoon session expressed concerns over the stagnant agriculture sector, saying “farmers no longer hold the fields dear to their heart”.
Deputy Nguyễn Quốc Hận from the southernmost Cà Mau Province made the comment as he attempted to question the Government on their responsibility in making good market forecasts for agricultural products, which repeatedly saw farmers stuck with excessive crop yields, without the ability to sell to anyone.
“The Government’s policies on agriculture are ineffective”, he said, citing the policy of “four-actor linkages” – which encourages the Government, scientists, enterprises, and farmers to collaborate, and has been largely ignored up until this point.
Hận also urged the Government to help the farmers tackle climate change, which cost his province alone some 4,000 ha of coastal land in 2005, and an additional 400ha of protection forest every year, all due to rising sea levels.
HCM City deputy Trần Hoàng Ngân, meanwhile, wanted the Government to cut intermediary expenses in agriculture businesses that are eating away at farmers’ profits.
Agriculture and rural development minister Nguyễn Xuân Cường admitted that the country’s agriculture sector is facing many challenges, and time is needed to ensure an efficient and thorough restructuring.
Việt Nam still has a lax production chain where connections between agricultural producers in national, provincial, and local levels are weak, Cường said.
The minister also acknowledged Việt Nam’s weakness in the processing stage, and even in supposedly strong industries such as aquaculture, despite the country’s sizeable production potentials.
“Governmental management also proved to be an issue,” Cường said, admitting failure in eliminating sub par and fake fertilisers and pesticides, as well as controlling the use of chemical substances in production, has reduced the public’s trust in food suppliers. — VNS