Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has suggested Vietnam and Australia work harder to lift their bilateral ties to a new height while meeting with Speaker of the Australian House of Representatives Anna Burke in Hanoi on May 22.
PM Nguyen Tan Dung delivers a speech in the Q&A session at the National Assembly. — VNA/VNS Photo Nhan Sang
The PM was the last person in the Q&A session at the National Assembly. He followed five ministers over the past three days.
In his update of the country's current socio-economic situation, Dung reaffirmed positive signs of the macro-economy, including the continued decrease of the Consumer Price Index, an export increase of nearly 35 per cent during the first 11 months and the fact inflation would likely stay at 18 per cent till the end of the year.
However, the PM acknowledged major challenges continued to plague the economy, such as high interest rates, bad debts, pressure from foreign currencies, the stagnancy of the stock and real estate markets and firms' inability to access loans.
"The current debt crisis in Europe and other complications of the world economy will continue in the coming year to have a negative effect on the economy, which has a high level of openness," Dung said.
For next year, the government would focus on achieving a one-digit inflation rate, continuing its credit tightening policy, reducing overspending of the state budget while still providing better conditions for businesses to access loans and increase production.
The PM's report also pointed out other priorities that included increasing the efficiency of public investment and other foreign capital sources, restructuring state-owned enterprises and the banking system and nearly doubling state investment in the agricultural sector during 2013-15.
A view of Quang Ninh Port, one of the busiest ports in the North. Increasing the efficiency of public investment and other foreign capital sources are among the Government's priorities, according to PM Nguyen Tan Dung. — VNA/VNS Photo Anh Tuan
Dung also reaffirmed the country's commitment to deal with the situation in the East Sea using peaceful solutions and the existing international legal framework, and Viet Nam's sovereignty over the Hoang Sa archipelago.
In regards to the East Sea issue, the PM emphasised Viet Nam's consistent foreign policies that are in line with the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the East Sea towards the building of the Code of Conduct and the recently signed agreement on basic principles guiding the settlement of sea issues between Viet Nam and China.
The PM said Viet Nam had the right to declare sovereignty in four areas: the area already demarcated in the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf, Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos and 200 nautical miles belonging to the country's exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.
In regards specifically to the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf, Dung said Viet Nam and China had achieved the Agreement on Delimitation of the Bac Bo (Tonkin) Gulf in 2000. The Vietnamese leader continued stressing Viet Nam's historical and legal basis to declare Hoang Sa and Truong Sa belonged to its sovereignty. The two islands had been under Viet Nam rule since the 17th century, Dung said, and Viet Nam has peacefully and stably exercised its sovereign right over the two archipelagos.
The Government has also instructed relevant government agencies to address programmes and supporting policies for residents and fishermen in these two areas, the PM said.
Responding to question posed by NA member Do Van Ve (Thai Binh) on the foundation of the Law on Demonstration, the PM said it was based on the Constitution 1992 and the fact that residents had already demonstrated the need to express themselves.
Without the Law on Demonstration, it would be difficult for the demonstrators to express their opinions peacefully and the local authorities to make sure it would not affect negatively the social order, Dung said.
He reaffirmed the Party's and Government's support for residents to express their patriotism and protect the country's sovereignty but would have to make sure to punish those who used patriotism as an excuse to damage the nation's stability and the society as a whole.
Answering question in regards to the current illegal exploitation of natural resources and minerals, the PM said the Government recognised the situation and had instructed provincial and local authorities to eliminate the situation and punish those who profited from illegal exploitation of natural resources, at the same time it would stop issuing permission for new exploitation projects in this area and monitor closely the export of natural resources and minerals.
Governor Nguyen Van Binh
Deputy Minh Tham claimed that businesses and farmers were receiving unequal treatment in access to credit. Businesses were often given priority to have easier access to the loans, Tham said, while farming households struggled to get needed financing for production.
Deputy Dang Thi Hoang Yen said that, since late 2009, infrastructure development had been designated by the State Bank as a non-manufacturing activity. Yet industrial zones contributed US$25 billion to the State budget last year and were put at a great disadvantage if not allowed to enjoy preferencial interest rates and access to credit.
Deputy Tran Ngoc Vinh said that the central bank had recently taken drastic measures to control the domestic foreign exchange and gold markets, but he worried that the measures would only generate benefit for certain interest groups. The tightening of deposit rates from the ceiling of 14 per cent, for instance, was profitable for large banks only. Meanwhile, businesses still had to borrow at high interest rates.
The State Bank Governor ackowledged that maintaining deposit rates at a ceiling of 14 per cent was inflexible but was a necessary measure to slow down inflation. Binh also said that the banking industry needed to be restructured over the next few years to help stabilise the economy.
Noting that Vietcombank was able to issue its shares abroad at a high price, he said that Viet Nam would need to make every effort to establish two banks over the next five years that were capable of competing with other banks in the region, as well as 10-15 more that would be key to the domestic banking system.
National Assembly Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said banking and monetary issues had a direct influence on business, production and daily lives. Retructuring of banks was needed to ensure the security of the entire banking system and was was an urgent task for this and coming years, he said.
Viet Nam has set a target of planting 2.6 million ha of forests during the 2011-20 period with the aim of raising forest cover to 44-45 per cent of the country's total area from the current 39.5 per cent.
The target is part of a forest protection and development programme which will be operated with an estimated total investment capital of VND49.3 trillion (US$2.3 billion).
Under a resolution approved by the National Assembly yesterday, the Government was entrusted to build the programme and organise its implementation.
The Government was instructed to protect the current forest area, ensure capital for forest development and protection, renew forest management models and develop preferential policies in the form of credits for the cultivation of production forest.
The resolution also marked the end of the national project to plant five million ha of trees during the 1998-2010 period
In its 13 years of implementation, that project yielded significant results, helping to increase national forest cover from 32 to 39.5 per cent by 2010.
Project outcomes also created employment for about 4.6 million workers, most of whom come from poor households or are ethnic minority people from highland areas. — VNS