Progress comes to rural areas

HA NOI — The majority of National Assembly deputies yesterday agreed that while public investment in agriculture and rural areas had gained achievements and contributed to the country’s development, there were still shortcomings that needed to be solved.

Construction proceeds on the Le Hong Phong water supply project in the central province of Binh Thuan's Bac Binh District, being built at a cost of VND400 billion (US$19 million) from Government bonds. Public investment still plays an important role in infrastructure development in rural areas. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh HueConstruction proceeds on the Le Hong Phong water supply project in the central province of Binh Thuan’s Bac Binh District, being built at a cost of VND400 billion (US$19 million) from Government bonds. Public investment still plays an important role in infrastructure development in rural areas. — VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue

National Assembly Economic Committee c hairman Nguyen Van Giau said public investment in agriculture and rural areas during the past five years had helped ensure food security, enhance socio-economic infrastructure and contributed to modernising rural areas.

“The investment has also created employment, reduced poverty, ensured social security and improved living standards for farmers,” he said.

During the 2006-11 period, public investment for the sector from the State budget and bonds came to more than VND432.7 trillion (US$26.6 billion), accounting for 49.67 per cent of total investment. In the same period, some $3.8 billion from ODA agreements, mostly large aid loans, were also devoted to investment in agriculture, irrigation, forestry, fisheries, rural development and poverty reduction.

NA deputies also discussed ways to better ensure essential infrastructure for rural areas and organisation of production zones in accordance with consumption and processing capacity.

Deputy Nguyen Van Dong from southern Hau Giang Province called for increasing investment in infrastructure for rural areas, especially in places with ethnic minorities, as local budgets could not afford such a huge investment.

He also asked the Government to draft a special policy for human resources training in the management of agriculture and rural development at grassroots levels.

Deputy Nguyen Tho Lai from northern Tuyen Quang Province said agriculture needed tighter management.

“The implementation of projects must be supervised closely to prevent local farmers from spontaneous production outside projected areas,” he said.

Lai also asked for a greater focus on ensuring that farmers who do switch sectors get vocational training in areas that will see high labour demand.

One important area that attracted a great deal of concern from deputies was poverty reduction. Reports showed that by 2011, the rate of poor households in rural areas fell to 9.45 per cent, down from 12 per cent in 2006.

Chairman of the NA Economic Committee Nguyen Van Giau said many poor people had received support from the Government, which had helped them develop small businesses, created jobs and increased local people’s incomes.

“However, poverty reduction has not been really sustainable,” he said. “The risk of people falling back into poverty is very high.”

Giau added that there were some localities with a high rate of poor households, especially in the northern mountainous region. He also highlighted the large income gap and difference in living standards between rural and urban areas.

Deputy Bui Manh Hung from southern Binh Phuoc Province said there was a phenomenon where some localities could not get out of poverty despite a lot of Government support.

“It sounds strange but it is true,” he said, “as the people are still very poor while localities have set poverty standards that are much higher than the national ones.”

Also addressing the problem of areas where poverty was entrenched, deputy Nguyen Ngoc Phuong from central Quang Binh Province said: “Some people just want to stay poor.”

Phuong explained that someone officially regarded as poor could receive many benefits such as free housing, food, healthcare and electricity.

“Thus having the status of someone living in poverty in some ways is so attractive that some local officials also ask for it,” he said. — VNS

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