Stabilising the macroeconomy and focusing on sustainable development are set to overshadow the Consultative Group meeting this week, from December 7-8, says Victoria Kwakwa, country director for the World Bank in Vietnam, a co-chair of the meeting.
What will be new topics for discussion at the CG meeting?
The main theme is macroeconomic stability and sustainable development. It basically reflects concern about the ongoing macroeconomic situation as well as a desire to make sure that as Vietnam enters middle income country status, its growth model is sustainable.
As compared to last year’s meetings, the difference is we will focus more on social protection issues. In the past, we looked more broadly at climate change. At this meeting, we decide to focus on climate change financing. We’re also focusing more on the efficiency of the state sector and so on. So yes, I think there are some differences from last year. But development is a long-term process so you will expect some themes like sustainable development will continue one year to the other.
Please give us more details about climate change financing, a new focus as you said?
Different development partners are helping in different ways. The important thing is that all of us are concerned about the risk for the growth and development stability by climate change. I think you will find the majority of development partners looking for opportunities to support the government to deal with this challenge.
For our part, the World Bank is trying to look at all interventions to reduce climate change and how we can make sure that we take advantage of the opportunity to address the climate change challenges. We are also trying to help the government get access to some of the global fund that supports climate change work. That is the core climate change work. We are trying to make sure we are mainstreaming all our operations and at the same time seeking specific projects that we think we can make a difference.
Will ODA usage efficiency be very high on agenda, given the context of the European debt crisis and concerns over public debt in Vietnam?
Of course, even without the debt crisis, it should always be an important issue. I think borrowing is not inherently bad. Using borrowing to support development priority efficiently is what more important.
Is the World Bank happy with the ODA usage efficiency in Vietnam?
Every time we complete a project, we have an independent evaluation group to assess the project. The projects that we completed in Vietnam were independently ranked as “satisfactory”. That’s good. But “satisfactory” isn’t everything. We can always do better. We are not being complacent. We’re working with the government to make sure implementing on time, and improve transparency for procurement and effectiveness. So, yes, we seem to be doing well.
But, we can even do better to support Vietnam’s development. It is challenge for Vietnam and for us to work on jointly.
Can we expect more ODA for the coming year from the World Bank?
As I said, Vietnam is an important client for the World Bank. We have a long standing engagement here. Vietnam has entered middle income status so it can access IBRD sources that allow us to expand the outlook of our support to Vietnam. I think our position will continue to grow to the extent the government needs such support.