Slow disbursement a worry: PM

Wednesday, Oct 04, 2017 09:57

The cable-stayed Cao Lanh Bridge spanning the Tien River in Dong Thap Province opened in September. Part of the Central Mekong Delta Region Connectivity Project, the VND3 trillion ($132 million) bridge was funded by Asia Development Bank loans and grants from the Australian government. — VNA/VNS Photo Nguyen Van Tri

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc told a meeting of Government yesterday he was worried about the slow disbursement of public investment capital.

The PM made the comment while chairing the Government’s regular meeting in Ha Noi, noting that only 55 per cent of the year’s investment plan had been spent so far. Urging sectors and localities to speed up, he ordered that capital that could not be disbursed as scheduled should be used for other urgent issues.

The Government leader also expressed dissatisfaction at the slow pace in equitisation of State-owned enterprises, noting that just 18 out of 44 targeted SOEs had been involved so far. He added that divestment of State capital amounted to only VND11.8 trillion out of the planned VND60 trillion.

Reviewing the nation’s socio-economic performance, the PM praised the breakthrough economic growth of 7.46 per cent in the third quarter. This was higher than the 5.15 per cent in the first quarter and 6.28 per cent in the second.

He said with such momentum and provided that there were no major natural disasters, the Government could fulfill targets assigned by the Party Central Committee and the National Assembly. He underlined the remarkable fact that growth was mostly driven by production and services instead of credit and mining.

The Government leader said the World Economic Forum recently raised Viet Nam position five places in the competitiveness index. Compared to five years ago, Viet Nam had climbed 50 places in the index. The country also earned 53 points in the Purchasing Managers’ Index released by the Nikkei, the highest among ASEAN member states. Exports were also expected to achieve 20-21 per cent growth.

The PM said that with the involvement of the entire political system, more than 5,000 administrative procedures had been cut, making it easier for production and trade.

He said the macro-economy continued to be stable with inflation at 3.79 per cent in the first nine months. The State budget collection and credit surged 14 and 12 per cent, respectively. The major index of the stock market topped 800 points, the highest since 2008. Foreign currency reserves surpassed US$44 billion while foreign direct investment soared 34 per cent to about $26 billion.

The PM said that about 94,000 new businesses had also been established nationwide.

Despite the positive signs, the PM warned ministries and sectors not to forget that the growth rate must hit 7.4-7.5 per cent in the fourth quarter if it was to achieve a 6.7 per cent goal for this year. The focus was on manufacturing and processing. The PM asked ministries and agencies to discuss measures to facilitate production, trade and exports while making preparations for the coming fifth session of the 14th National Assembly.

Priority sectors need

Priority sectors like high-tech agriculture, exports, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and start-ups should receive preferential credit, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at the meeting.

“This is a key task for completing the 2017 socio-economic development plan,” he said.

He also called for lower lending rates and drastic measures to restructure ineffective credit institutions and settle bad debts by the end of 2018.

The PM asked ministries and agencies to keep a close watch on prices of petroleum and services, as well as the foreign exchange market, both at home and abroad, from now until the end of this year, so as to enable timely, suitable policies.

He underlined the need to review and closely control State budget spending, and called for efforts to fulfill collection targets for the State coffers.

Meanwhile, more favourable conditions should be created to encourage private investment, he said, pointing out weaknesses in the restructuring of State-owned enterprises.

Promoting exports and trade promotion, simplifying procedures, especially customs clearance procedures and licensing, are also important tasks, the PM said.

He asked concerned agencies to pay attention to trade barriers being erected in the US market against Vietnamese tra fish (pangasius) and shrimp.

Ha Noi and HCM City should boost the domestic market as part of efforts to balance exports and imports, he said.

While trying to ensure its growth rate, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should pay due attention to dealing with natural disasters, including flooding, from now until the end of this year, the PM said.

He suggested a shift from rice cultivation into other ventures like shrimp breeding, and said new markets should be scouted for Vietnamese farm produce. Fishing activities need better policy protection, he told the ministry.

Tourism promotion should be stepped up during the upcoming APEC 2017 events and the remaining months of the year, he said, adding there were huge opportunities to reach the yearly target of serving over 13-15 million international visitors.

Thorough preparations should be made right now for carrying out the 2018 socio-economic development plan, the PM stressed.

Reviewing national socio-economic progress over the past nine months, he attributed achievements to orienting the growth model towards higher quality and competitiveness in major production sectors, a more favourable business environment, and improved professionalism among public sector employees.

Firm on corruption

The Party, the Government and political apparatus as a whole is committed and determined to fight corruption, Minister and Chairman of the Government’s Office, Mai Tien Dung said at the following press conference, responding to questions raised about several economic mismanagement trials involving high-ranking officials and executives as well as leading bankers over the last two years.

“It’s not just the serious and high profile cases, cases in remote areas are also investigated thoroughly and punishments handed out under the law in a transparent manner,” Dung said.

He said the Government has been guiding continued investigations into huge loss-making projects and businesses.

In the context of the high-level APEC meeting set to take place in Da Nang next month, Dung stressed that the proposed disciplinary action against two key city leaders, Chairman of the People’s Committee and the Party Secretary, would not impact the event, noting that the National APEC Committee was led by Deputy PM and Foreign Affairs Minister Pham Binh Minh and Viet Nam would do its best to fulfill the role of the host country.

“Currently, ministerial level conferences and preparations for the summit are all going as planned,” Dung said.

On the controversial issue of new development plan proposed for the Ha Noi Railway Station and its vicinity, Deputy Transport Minister Nguyen Ngoc Dong said city authorities were seeking opinions from ministries and sectors. The Prime Minister himself had advised caution, he noted.

Concerning the traffic aspect of the new plan that envisages more high-rise buildings, the Transport Ministry would study it and announce its findings later, Dong said.

He said that the two economic hubs of the country, Ha Noi and HCM City, were suffering from overcrowding and traffic congestion, requiring sensible management of urban space.

A general rule of the thumb is that traffic infrastructure takes up 20 per cent of total urban space, but this was just seven to eight per cent in the two cities, he said. — VNS

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