National Party Congress keeps Vietnam up to speed

January 25, 2016 | 09:17
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Vietnam’s 12th National Party Congress has ignited the country’s second stage of reform both in terms of political system and economic growth in a bid to prevent Vietnam from lagging behind regional and global peers.

New reforms will help the country grow sustainably-Photo: Le Toan

The 11th Party Central Committee’s political report, presented by Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong at the opening of the congress in Hanoi last week, pointed out that during the last five years, Vietnam obtained great, historic accomplishments on the path to socialism and national protection.

Six important missions of the 12th Party Central Committee during 2016-2020:

-To enhance and consolidate Party building and reorganisation; to prevent and fight against the degradation of political ideology, morality, lifestyle, and signs of “self-changing” and “self-transforming”; to focus on building a contingent of capable, prestigious, and reliable officials, especially strategic officials who can perform their tasks well;

-To organise a political system with lean, efficient, and effective apparatus; and bolster the fight against corruption, wastefulness, and bureaucracy;

-To improve growth quality, labour productivity, and the competitiveness of the economy; to effectively implement three strategic breakthroughs; to comprehensively restructure the economy in association with growth model transformation; to accelerate national industrialisation and modernisation, especially in agriculture and rural development; to effectively restructure state-owned enterprises and state budget; to resolve bad debts and control public debts;

-To resolutely and consistently struggle to firmly safeguard the national independence, sovereignty, unity, and territorial integrity; to firmly maintain a peaceful and stable environment for national development; to expand and deepen external relations; to fruitfully implement international integration in the new context, continuing to improve the country’s position and prestige in the international arena;

-To mobilise and bring into play all resources and the creativity of the people; to improve the people’s material and spiritual life, effectively settling urgent issues; to strengthen social management and development, ensuring social and human security, social welfare improvement and sustainable poverty reduction; to promote the people’s right to mastery and the strength of national great solidarity;

-To utilise human resources in all areas; to focus on human development in terms of morality, personality, lifestyle, intelligence, and working capacity; and to develop a healthy cultural environment.

“However, there remain a number of complex issues along with flaws that must be dealt with to develop the nation rapidly and sustainably,” Trong said. “The reform will require more comprehensive and synchronous development in terms of politics, economics, culture, society, defense, security, and diplomacy.”

Three main pillars of sustainable economic growth with better competitiveness, labour productivity, and environmental protection, ensuring social equality, and improved performance of the Party and the government, will be urgently pushed forward in the new period of Vietnam’s reform.

“Looking towards 2025, Vietnam’s abundant, competitive-cost labour force and rich natural resources will no longer be advantages. In addition, the country’s wider global integration will result in fiercer rivalry, thus urging the need for our economy to become more competitive,” said Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh at the congress. “Unless Vietnam’s reform is sharpened and those pillars are cemented, the country will be left behind.”

Official figures show that Vietnam’s GDP per capita has reached $2,052, a fifth of the global average and a third of Thailand’s. Calculations reveal that only if Vienam’s GDP growth reached 8 per cent per annum would the country’s GDP per capita reach $15,000-18,000 in 2035.

“We will have no choice other than to vigorously improve our labour productivity to reach that goal. In addition, a new wave of private business startups should be strongly promoted with the government’s incentives and venture funds playing a key role,” Vinh suggested.

The 12th National Party Congress, under the theme of intensifying efforts to build a strong and pure Party, gathered 1,510 delegates who represent more than 4.5 million Party members nationwide. Promoting the strength of the populace and the socialist democracy, stepping up reforms comprehensively and synchronously, firmly safeguarding the nation and maintaining a peaceful and stable environment, as well as striving to soon turn Vietnam into a modern industrialised country are among the themes of the congress, which takes place every five years.

“The 12th National Party Congress is a congress of solidarity, democracy, discipline, and renovation, reflecting the strong will and resolution of the nation as a whole to build Vietnam into a strong country with prosperous people, and a democratic, fair, and civilised society, advancing firmly to socialism,” President Truong Tan Sang said.

The eight-day event will run until January 28 and is focusing on reviewing the implementation of the 11th National Party Congress’ resolutions and the outcomes of the 30-year reform, which was a milestone of the 6th National Party Congress in December 1986.

The delegates will also discuss and approve important documents, including the 11th Party Central Committee’s political report, a report reviewing the implementation of socio-economic development goals during 2011-2015 and putting forth directions and goals for 2016-2020. For the next five years, Vietnam will strive for an annual GDP growth of 6.5-7 per cent per annum and GDP per capita will reach $3,200-$3,500 by 2020.

On January 27, the new Central Party Committee will convene its first plenary meeting within the framework of the congress, during which the members will elect the Politburo, General Secretary, Secretariat, and Central Inspection Commission and its chairman.

Comments from international organisations on Vietnam’s need for continued reforms

Jonathan Dunn - IMF resident representative in Vietnam

Vietnam has made commendable progress in reducing poverty and stabilising the economy in recent years. Policy actions that capitalise on these achievements and Vietnam’s favourable demographics will support a continuation of robust, inclusive growth and strengthen domestic and external buffers. Bolstering structural reforms in the financial sector and state-owned enterprises will release resources to productive sectors and improve the overall business environment. These macro-critical structural reforms are essential to boost productivity, which has been falling in recent years, and to develop strong domestic industries that can take full advantage of opportunities created by the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other free trade agreements.

Victoria Kwakwa - World Bank country director for Vietnam

In the last few years, Vietnam has achieved a commendable growth recovery following the global recession. However, the continued trend towards declining productivity growth is worrisome. Vietnam’s productivity growth rate is under 4 per cent and declining, compared to over 7 per cent for China and over 5 per cent for Korea when they were at similar levels of development as Vietnam is now. What is needed to stem the decline in productivity growth is a broad framework to level the playing field between all economic actors and promote genuine competition and security of property rights. Vietnam’s market institutional reform agenda will need to be significantly stepped up to achieve this.

Pratibha Mehta - United Nations resident coordinator and UNDP resident representative in Vietnam

As a middle income country, Vietnam now finds itself at an important juncture in its development journey. Like other newly emergent middle-income countries, it faces a difficult transition with many contrasting priorities. Its once stellar human development progress has levelled off in recent years. Once ranked well above others on the Human Development Index in the East Asia and Pacific region, Vietnam now lags behind. Policy choices at this stage would define if Vietnam gets stuck, or surges forward in an inclusive, equitable, and sustainable manner. In many aspects, a second doi moi is needed to meet the emerging challenges.

By By Hoang Mai

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