Donors back local economy

February 04, 2013 | 11:35
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Raising a toast to the Year of the Snake as “a time of rebirth,” the Ministry of Planning and Investment and international donors expressed confidence last week that Vietnam would achieve progress in the country’s economic restructuring and renewal.

 As Vietnam welcomes the Lunar New Year - the lucky  “Year of the Snake”
- the Minister of Planning and Investment and international donors express confidence of more progress
at renewal despite the troubled global economy.

“In 2013, our cooperation will see a new development ladder,” Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) Minister Bui Quang Vinh noted. “We will celebrate the 20th anniversary of establishing development cooperation between Vietnam and the international donor community.”

“The Year of the Snake is time for rebirth and transformation,” Tomoyuki Kimura, country director of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) for Vietnam, said on behalf of donors present at the meeting. “Reflecting the symbolism of a snake shedding its skin, the Vietnamese economy is also very much in need of transformation. We strongly believe that the MPI, under Minister Vinh’s action-oriented leadership, will be a key driver for the transformation process.

“Also the snake symbolises a thinker,” Kimura continued. “I hope we can gather our wisdom to resolve many challenging issues and deliver good results. The ADB stands ready to continue supporting the MPI, and working with development partners in a coordinated manner to achieve our common goals.”

Today, most development partners have their own bilateral ODA discussions and agreements and the resource mobilisation function of the CG is no longer relevant.

What is needed now is a platform for substantive and meaningful dialogue between the government and partners in Vietnam’s development.  Twenty years ago, the key partners were the government and development partners.

Today there are more partners in Vietnam’s development, both the civil society; and the private sector.

We hope that the new format going forward will embrace this wider group, allowing the collective wisdom of all stakeholders to be effectively tapped.

I am confident that we are embarking on an exciting new phase of our dialogue and partnership as we move to a new format for the CG in 2013 and beyond.

In the 20 years since we re-started ODA to Vietnam, Japan has been supporting Vietnam’s economic development as the leading donor. The economic growth of Vietnam is important not only to the improvement of its social welfare, but also to the stabilisation and development of East Asian region.

Therefore, Vietnam has been one of the prioritised countries in our ODA policy.

Actually, the volume of Japan’s ODA to Vietnam has continuously been increasing. In the last fiscal year, we have provided ODA loans of about $2.7 billion, excluding the amount carried-over from FY 2010 due to the Japan earthquake, which is the biggest amount ever. In the first half of this fiscal year, Japan has already provided about $1.4 billion of new ODA loans.

I hope over this fiscal year, Japan will be able to provide the amount nearly equal to what we have pledged last year.

Canada restored ODA to Vietnam in 1990 and has since provided approximately $770 million in development assistance through the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) in support of Vietnam’s economic reform and poverty alleviation initiatives.

In 2009, as part of Canada’s new aid effectiveness agenda, Vietnam was selected by CIDA as a country of focus. CIDA’s current programming responds to the government of Vietnam’s poverty reduction priorities and focuses on improving the enabling environment for investment and on supporting rural enterprise development and agricultural productivity. CIDA focuses on increasing agricultural productivity, especially at the provincial level, by supporting technical assistance and other services to farmers and government agencies in order to improve production and harvesting techniques, food safety and quality.

CIDA focuses on supporting legal and policy reforms, as well as institutional changes needed for market-driven growth, and on strengthening rural small- and medium-sized enterprise development.

CIDA also focuses on enhancing skills for employment by improving access to and management of the technical and vocational education system.

During 2012-13 Australia commits to provide A$150.4 million ($144.4 million) in ODA for Vietnam.

Australia continues to help Vietnam make the most of opportunities from integration into the world economy. Our aid programme is focused on building skills, saving lives, strengthening institutions and expanding infrastructure to support continued high growth that promotes opportunities for all.

Our aid programme also provides support for climate change mitigation and adaptation, HIV prevention as well as efforts to combat corruption and protect human rights.

The coming year, Vinh noted, would also mark the remake of annual Consultative Group (CG) Meeting for Vietnam into the Vietnam Development Partnership Forum (VDPF), implementing commitments in the Vietnam Partnership Document in order to enhance the effectiveness of international assistance, further contributing to Vietnam’s development.

“During its development, Vietnam hopes to continue receiving precious support and help from the international donor community,” Vinh said.

Kimura added: “The year 2013 is an important year for Vietnam, especially for the MPI, as it marks the mid-term of the current Socio-Economic Development Plan (SEDP). It is an opportune time for all of us to review progress so far, make adjustments as necessary, and renew our commitment to the successful implementation of the SEDP.”

According to the MPI, with great support from the donors and its internal strength, Vietnam’s economy saw positive changes in 2012 amid big difficulties.

While the economic growth rate stood at 5.03 per cent, the inflation rate was tamed at 6.81 per cent, the nation’s export turnover reached $114.6 billion, up 18.3 per cent on-year.

“Notably, amid economic difficulties, development partners pledged $6.485 billion in official development assistance (ODA) for Vietnam’s development agenda in 2013 at the annual CG Meeting for Vietnam in Hanoi in December 2012,” Vinh said.

The MPI reported that in 2012, almost $4 billion in ODA had been disbursed, including $3.65 billion of loans and $250 million of grants.

Since 1993, total ODA committed to Vietnam has been over $76.5 billion. For instance, the figures were $7.386 billion in 2012, $7.9 billion in 2011 and over $8 billion in 2010, and $24.8 billion between 2003 and 2009. ODA disbursement reached $2.94 billion in 2010 and $3.65 billion in 2011.

Vietnam currently has 51 international donors including 28 bilateral donors and 23 multilateral donors.

“On this occasion, on behalf of the Vietnamese government, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the donors and international friends for their active cooperation and precious support to Vietnam’s socio-economic development and international integration,” Vinh said.

By Thanh Dat

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