Donors and Government Discuss Development Goals in Vietnam

The Consultative Group mid-year meeting was this year held in Rach Gia, Kien Giang province in the Mekong-delta area. One of the main issues on the agenda in the meeting was Climate Change and one of the post-meeting field trips to U Minh Thuong National forest gave the participants a chance to visit an important forest whose mitigating impact of the forest on climate change is highly exceptional.

The Consultative Group mid-year meeting was this year held in Rach Gia, Kien Giang province in the Mekong-delta area. The Consultative group (CG) is a group of donors who assist through official development assistance and advice the Vietnamese government in meeting development targets.

From the Vietnam government side the meeting was attended by PM Dung and MPI minister Phuc together with all relevant ministries, state bank of Vientam, and the govenrment inspectorate being represented. From donors’ side the meetings was chaired by the World Bank. The issues discussed this year concentrated on the future government 10 year vision and 5 year plan on socio-economic development.

The overall economic development of Vietnam was considered very positive. In the macro-economic situation trade deficit, rising inflation and low exchange reserves were considered worrying factors. But overall, Vietnam is sailing in calmer waters. Restoring confidence is still needed and as such, the quality of information and better statistics were called upon by the donors.

Donors also took up some critical issues. It was noted that the state owned enterprise (SOE) reforms need to continue. The reduction of SOEs from 5600 to 1253 was not considered as efficient enough. Consequenlty, the equitization and reforms of the SOEs need to continue to ease their burden to the economy and stop distorting the competition.

 Corruption was also still seen as a major problem of the society and continued efforts on protecting the “whistle-blowers” are needed. Closely connected to this is also the discussion on access to information and the donor community urged the Vietnamese governemnt to pass the law on access to information. The education sector had recently been the focus of the anti-corruption dialogue and it was emphasized during the meeting that talking about “acceptable petty corruption“ obscures the fight on corruption. Public sector salary reform was mentioned as one of key elements to make temptation to corruption less interesting.

One of the major issue on the agenda of the two day meeting was climate change. In this light, Kien Giang was definitely the right place to talk about the negative impacts of climate change.

The province has been experiencing lately increase in temperature and rainfall, as well as the first symptoms of sea level rise. The coast line of the province is extremely vulnerable and  consequenlty a dyke system is being developed. The aim of the dikes is to prevent sea water access into the rice fields and sea food production ponds. An important part of the efforts are forest resources (especially Mangrove forests) and developing the marine ecosystems. Construction of agro-forestry farming in addition to dikes was mentioned as a useful tool combating sea level rise. For the people to understand the seriousness of the threat a model village living with sea level rise was mentioned.

Traditionally post-meeting field trips took the participants to different projects. One of the most interesting was conservation project of the U Minh Thuong National forest. The forest is a rare example of a tropical peat swamp forest and its importance is of global value. Not only the biodiversity is of great value but also the mitigating impact of the forest on climate change is highly exceptional. By cutting the level of carbon dioxides in the air the peat forest acts as an automatic carbon capture and storage sink. Vegetation and fauna are so rich in the park that main activity of park rangers, in addition to prevent forest fires, is to keep illegal hunters and traders outside the park. U Minh Thuong for instance is home for 185 species of birds. This natural richness makes the park a world-class destination for sustainable eco-tourism.

But now you have to be careful! The value of the park is the nature and there is and should not be any other diversion or gadgets but the genuine nature.

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