National Assembly (NA) deputies yesterday applauded achievements in socio-economic development last year as reported by the Government, but expressed their worry about the quality of growth.
A Doosan Vina manufacturing plant in Quang Ngai Province's Dung Quat Economic Zone. National Assembly deputies have expressed their concerns over the country's quality of growth despite achievements.
Deputies agreed with the Government's report on the implementation of the socio-economic development plan for 2010 and its plan for socio-economic development for 2011.
However, they said the growth rate was high but people's living conditions had not improved very much. This showed that growth was unsustainable.
Deputy Bui Van Tinh from the northern province of Hoa Binh said that this year, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) reached 6.7 per cent, higher than the target set by the National Assembly.
In the first nine months of the year, industrial production value increased by 13.8 per cent over the same period last year and 50 per cent more foreign capital was attracted, proving that the investment environment had improved considerably.
However, he said he was worried about rises in the world market which would put pressure on the domestic market.
Vu Quang Hai from northern Hung Yen Province said that the GDP growth of 6.7 per cent proved the Government's determination to get out of the economic recession, but the current inflation level would have a negative influence on low-income people, especially farmers, he said.
Deputies asked the Government to form policies to encourage enterprises to invest in agricultural production. Hai said that agricultural growth this year was initially projected to reach 2.6 per cent but in reality was likely be lower due to the recent floods.
Deputy Nguyen Huu Nhi from central Nghe An Province said that the agricultural product market was also unstable. Farmers still had to face rising fertiliser prices and fake fertiliser products, and diseases and climate change remained challenges for the sector.
The Government must tighten management of the agricultural product market to ensure the benefits of farmers, deputies said.
According to a Government report, the Government debt by the end of this year would be 44.5 per cent of the GDP but the real figure might be higher as it did not include loans it had guaranteed for banks and enterprises, Hai said.
The country had spent a lot of borrowed money on projects which were not high value-added and of low social efficiency, which would lead to difficulties in paying the debt back in the future, he added.
Besides, the Viet Nam dong had depreciated against many other foreign currencies such as the US dollar, euro and Japanese yen, and as a result the debt Viet Nam has to pay is much higher, according to Hai.
Hai suggested that the Government's public debt should be put under the special supervision of the National Assembly and the Government so that it could be managed more efficiency.
Deputy Le Nhu Tien, representative for central Quang Tri Province, said that over the past year, planning work had been carried out but without long-term vision or accurate estimates, leading to unsustainable and inefficient development projects as well as a loss of natural resources such as land, capital and human resources.
Due to a lack of long-term vision, the Ministry of Construction had to ask the Prime Minister to change plans regarding the industry four times in the past 12 years. With a total design capacity of 65 million tonnes per year from 108 cement factories, this year, cement supply would be 3 million tonnes higher than demand and the figure for 2011 would be 7 million.
The same situation was happening in the steel sector. Total steel output nation-wide was 20 million tonnes per year while the local demand for the product only stood at 11.5 million tonnes.
Over the past 20 years, the Government allowed the construction of 130 industrial and processing zones which covered more than 26,000ha of land, but some projects were still pending while many farmers had lost their farmland, leading to a huge waste of resources.
Tien suggested that the Government should carry out detailed surveys and set up councils of independent scientists to assess planning in the future. Planning would have to be publicised so that people and organisations could gain access to it.
It was necessary for the Government to review all planning and projects as well as supervise, examine and audit inefficient projects and if necessary, shut them down, he stressed.
Deputies Tran Ngoc Vinh from Hai Phong and Huynh Ngoc Dang from southern Binh Duong Proice said that a shortage of power had negatively affected production and people's lives, but the problem had not yet been addressed.
Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang said that the ministry took responsibility for the short supply of electricity in recent times. The shortage was due to many reasons, he said.
As estimated, from 2006 to 2015, the average increase in power consumption would be 16-17 per cent per year. This estimation was precise but mobilisation of resources for electricity production was still slow.
In 2008-09, many projects were delayed due to difficulties in accessing loans as a result of the economic recession. Some thermal power plants were put into operation but were unreliable due to technical problems.
As requested by the Government, the demand for power in 2011 and 2012 must be satisfied. The ministry was co-operating with other ministries, agencies and localities to review projects that were wasting electricity and using out-of-date technology, including some steel projects, Hoang said.
Minister of Construction Nguyen Hong Quan said that the ministry predicted demand for cement in the upcoming years would continue to rise and current projects would ensure a balance of supply and demand.
Ministers Hoang and Quan attributed the large number of licences issued for cement and steel factories to the fact that poor provinces wished to attract investment projects to boost their development and create jobs for local workers, while authorities and businesses had not been well informed of the Government's plans.
A number of deputies agreed that it was necessary to define reasons for the collapse of the Viet Nam Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (Vinashin) and the specific responsibilities of Government members, ministries, and heads of related authorities.
Deputy Pham Thi Loan of Ha Noi highlighted that heads of State management agencies must take responsibility if they made any mistakes and apologise for any wrongdoing on their part while considering resignation.
Deputies said that the investigation would help prevent the manipulation of State groups, create a healthy business environment and restore people's confidence in the leadership of the Party and Government.
The Binh Duong deputy, Dang, said that for long time, there had been a shortage of legal policies and management mechanisms for economic groups which were managing most national natural resources.
He asked for suitable changes to be made to laws and policies.
Deputies asked the Government and the National Assembly to audit the activities of State economic groups, especially Electricity of Viet Nam, to form a foundation to assess the economic group model. The Government must report the groups' State capital usage and development activities every year to the NA, they said.
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