|Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc|
HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc yesterday said he hoped a billion trees would be planted in Việt Nam over the next five years.
He was speaking at a National Assembly Q&A session in Hà Nội, during which he spoke about a number of issues including recent natural disasters, the country’s economic growth, education and healthcare.
In recent months, flooding and landslides had caused many deaths and losses. While experts were blaming these natural disasters on climate change, heavy rains or the construction of small hydropower plants, it was first and foremost necessary for us to protect the forests and plant more trees, the Prime Minister said.
“Right from the start of my term, I ordered the closure of natural forests [for commercial purposes], and we need to be persistent on this. Although forest coverage has been increasing, it’s still low compared to many other countries. We need to continue planting trees. I propose planting one billion trees in the next five years, including in urban areas,” he said.
Related to this, the Government would strictly review the main causes of flooding, including forest protection and planning for hydropower plants, and draw up appropriate measures, Phúc said. He added that violations of forest protection would be severely punished.
He also called on long-term measures to cope with climate change and natural disasters, including improved forecasting and alert mechanisms, landslide and flooding maps, and sufficient supplies of rescue equipment.
Increasing income per capita
According to Government leaders, over the past four years Việt Nam had created more than eight million new jobs and significantly improved labour productivity, increasing to 5.8 per cent per year - much higher than the 4.3 per cent posted in the previous four years.
“During my past term, Việt Nam's per capita income increased by nearly 145 per cent. Looking at the standards set by the World Bank, the national average income is equivalent to nearly US$9,000,” the Prime Minister said.
He said according to World Bank estimation, Việt Nam’s middle class population would be more than 50 per cent by 2045. With the reduction of poor households, the PM stated his determination to reduce the poverty rate.
Phúc also reviewed the achievements made across all fields in 2020.
Since the beginning of his term, the Government has had to tackle huge challenges such as saline intrusion in the Mekong Delta region, the Formosa environmental incident, landslides and flooding. However, Việt Nam has US$1,200 billion in GDP in the past five year, with a stable macro-economic foundation.
“Việt Nam is considered as one of the 16 most successful emerging economies. In 2020, Việt Nam has also been one of the fastest growing economies, persistently maintaining positive growth at a fair level,” Phúc said.
He said strength in solidarity had been affirmed in 2020 with Việt Nam successfully coping with COVID-19, which was highly appreciated by the international community. Việt Nam had also fulfilled its international responsibilities as the host of APEC and a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.--VNS