This will be a year of ‘breakthroughs’ in all sectors and see all striving towards “the highest achievements,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc wrote in an article issued on the first day of 2019 that summarized socio-economic development in 2018 and laid down orientations for 2019.
|Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc__Photo: VNA
Despite an array of challenges from the global economy and internal weaknesses, 2018 was a year with many resounding successes for the Vietnamese economy, wrote PM Phuc.
GDP growth of Vietnam reached VND 5.5 trillion, translating to a year-on-year growth of 7.08 percent - the highest since 2008 - putting the country amongst those with the strongest growth in the region and the world.
He noted with satisfaction how the impressive growth was achieved while macroeconomic indices remained stable and on an upward trend, with inflation and the Consumer Price Index (CPI) kept under control.
The “strongest driver of growth” came from manufacturing industries with a growth figure of 12.98 percent, he wrote, pointing to the country’s reduced reliance on extractive industries and credits.
PM Phuc noted “with exuberance” several new records of the Vietnamese economy, with export value – especially agricultural products – reaching an all-time high of USD 245 billion and USD 40 billion, respectively.
Vietnam has become one of the “world’s factories” in several areas, from agriculture products like rice, shrimp and fish to high-tech industries like smart phones, electronics and automobiles.
The ratio of non-State investment reached 43.3 percent of the total investment in the country, which includes USD 19.1 billion from foreign direct investment, showed that the Party Central Committee’s resolution on the development of the private economic sector has proved a success, he wrote, adding that experts and observers consider Vietnam amongst the most attractive destinations for investment in the Asia-Pacific region.
Vietnam drew 15.5 million foreign tourist arrivals in 2018, up 19.9 percent compared to last year, forming a solid basis to achieving the target of 20 million arrivals in 2020, he said.
PM Phuc predicted that the country would fulfill all goals set out in the five-year plan 2016-20.
He reserved a section in the article to underline the Party and State’s commitment to the ongoing anti-corruption fight which has received favorable responses from the public and strengthened their faith in the Party and the State.
Quoting Party General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong, PM Phuc stressed that “we cannot rest on our laurels.”
PM Phuc urged an “honest look” into the limitations of the economy – most notably, low productivity, low resistance against external impacts, slow transforming of its growth models, tardy restructuring of several economic sectors, underdeveloped supporting industries, and generally cumbersome administrative procedures – to have appropriate remedies.
The Government leader also lamented the ‘hot-button’ social issues that have drawn public attention during the year, including school violence, child abuse, and moral and lifestyle degradation.
New Year’s priorities
The year 2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the late President Ho Chi Minh’s will, PM Phuc said, with the onus being on “the whole political system, the people and the military, State agencies and local governments and the business community” to carry out his wish of a stronger and developed country.
He laid out six priority areas on which the Party and the Government would focus.
First, Vietnam should focus on economic development, with an emphasis on consolidating the macroeconomy, implementing stringent fiscal policies, and keeping overspending rate lower than 3.6 percent of national GDP.
2019 would continue to be a year with stronger commitments towards restructuring public investment and restructuring of State-owned enterprises as well as credit institutions.
Studies would be needed to figure out measures to boost the growth of industries considered to be ‘drivers of growth’ such as processing, manufacturing, high-tech agriculture, information technology, tourism and urban development, the Government leader wrote.
“Robust implementation” of measures to boost the country’s rankings in business environment, competitiveness, investors’ protection and cross-border trade would need special attention in 2019, he said.
Second, cultural and social development must be in tandem with economic development, in line with the spirit ‘leaving no one behind.’
All agencies and local governments are told to prepare ahead of the implementation of Party Central Committee’s resolutions on reforms of salary, social insurance and medical programs.
Third, resources and environmental management must be enhanced, and measures devised to cope with climate change and natural disasters. The land law would need to be consolidated, with stricter controls and harsher penalties expected for violations of regulations on land management and extractive activities, PM Phuc wrote.
He called for “comprehensive solutions” to handle waste in rural areas, highly concentrated residential areas and in major delta areas.
Projects to prevent and alleviate natural disasters’ consequences and cope with climate change would need to be expedited, especially in the Mekong Delta, the central coastal region, the Central Highlands and the northern uplands.
Fourth, in 2019, the Government would need to step up efforts in e-Government building and administrative reforms.
Expedition of high-profile economic mismanagement, more stringent implementation of anti-corruption law, with a focus on creating a corruption-free environment, promoting cashless transactions and transparency in public administration and selection of cadres can be expected in the next year.
Fifth, national security and order would continue to be consolidated. The Government leader also stressed that the national socio-economic and cultural development need to go hand in hand with ensuring national defense and security via proactive measures to foil the plots of ‘hostile forces.’
The public security agencies would focus on tackling organized crime, such as drugs, theft gangs, high-tech criminal activities and loan sharks.
He also urged for more active contributions from Vietnam to enhance its standing in multilateral forums and organizations, early issuance of the plan to effectively implement the new-generation trade pacts, Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and Europe-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement (EVFTA).
Sixth, mass communication efforts must be stepped up to create ‘social consensus.’ Press agencies would hold necessary programs to disseminate the Party and State’s policies and directions, instructions and information on issues of public interest.
Those abusing the freedom of information and free speech, causing harm to the interests of the State and citizens would receive appropriate punishments.
Concluding the article, PM Phuc called for the unity and concerted efforts from all classes of people to fulfill the tasks laid out for 2019, which would contribute to the achievements of development goals in the five-year plan 2016-20 and “create a firm foundation and conducive environment” for the country to flourish sustainably in the coming period.- (VNS/VLLF)