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The Communist Party of Vietnam leads the country to achieve rapid and sustainable development
12/10/2017 10:51' Send Print
Comrade Vo Van Thuong, Member of the Politburo, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Head of the Commission for Communication and Education of the Party Central Committee. Photo: VNA

Awareness of the Communist Party of Vietnam on rapid and sustainable development

Starting from a small, and backward economy heavily devastated after more than 30 years of war, lagging far behind the region and the world and people's life was extremely difficult, rapid development to improve people's live, and strengthen the country is an urgent requirement for Vietnam. At the same time, sustainable development today is a vital issue of mankind. In that context, the Communist Party of Vietnam has chosen a strategy for rapid and sustainable national development.

Rapid and sustainable development is a consistent point of view that has been confirmed and continuously perfected through the Congresses of the Communist Party of Vietnam in the renovation process. The 6th Congress organized in 1986 which initiated the renewal process in Vietnam put forward the view: "Stability and development are linked together in the process of moving forward, stability is for development and only through development can stability is achieved." (1) The 7th Congress in 1991 adopted the Strategy for Socio-Economic Stabilization and Development until 2000, pointing to "rapid economic growth, high efficiency and sustainability"; "Economic growth must be linked to social progress and equity, cultural development and environmental protection." The 8th Congress in 1996, the 9th Congress in 2001, the 10th Congress in 2006 continued to affirm the viewpoint of "rapid, effective and sustainable development, economic growth coupled with social progress and equity and environmental protection." (2) The 10th Congress drew five lessons from national development over the past 20 years of innovation, in which the first lesson was rapid and sustainable development.

The 11th Party Congress in 2011 stated that rapid development associated with sustainable development and sustainable development are a cross-cutting demand of the Strategy for Socio-Economic Development until 2020 and drew a lesson: it is necessary to attach importance to quality and efficiency of growth with sustainable development. Mobilization increase must be linked to effective use of resources at home and abroad. It is important to closely combine economic growth with social progress and equity."(3)

The 12th Party Congress in 2016 continued to affirm: "Ensure rapid and sustainable development on the basis of macroeconomic stability and continuously improvement of productivity, quality, efficiency and competitiveness. Harmoniously develop in both scope and scale, attach importance to deepening development; develop knowledge economy, and green economy. Economic development must be closely linked to cultural and social development, environmental protection, and proactive response to climate change. Ensure national defense and security and maintain peace and stability for national construction" (4); "rapid and sustainable development (towards Sustainable Development Goals to 2030 of the United Nations); harmoniously handle economic growth and cultural development, social progress and equity, and environmental protection." (5) Realizing the viewpoint of the 12th Party Congress, the Resolution of the 4th Plenum of the 12th Party Central Committee organized in 2016 on growth model renewal stated: "The reform of growth model is to improve the quality of growth, productivity and competitiveness of the economy, economic, social and environmental rapid and sustainable development. Not to promote growth at any cost which negatively affects macroeconomic stability; ensure national defense, security, progress and social equity, and preserve the ecological environment." (6)

Thus, the perception and viewpoints on rapid and sustainable development of the Communist Party of Vietnam have inherited the world's common knowledge of rapid and sustainable development while applying them and making supplements suitable for Vietnam. Rapid and sustainable development is a process of high and stable economic growth over a long period of time with a close and rational combination of economic development and social progress and equity and environmental protection, economical, social and environmental sustainable development; it meets the material and spiritual needs of the present generation, leaving no harm to the future generations’ needs. In addition, the Communist Party of Vietnam identifies people-centered rapid , sustainable development is the objective, maximizing the human factor, making science and technology are the foundation and driving force for development; rapid and sustainable development is the cause of the entire Party and people; everyone, every community in society has equal opportunity to develop, contribute and enjoy developmental achievements, build Vietnam into a strong country with prosperous people, democracy, equity and civilization, consolidate national defense and security, firmly maintain national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Results and constraints in leading rapid and sustainable development in Vietnam in recent years

The viewpoint of rapid and sustainable development has been integrated in amendment, supplement and promulgation of the 2013 Constitution; the legal system, mechanisms and policies especially the socialist-oriented market economy mechanism have been increasingly complete, closely linking economic development with social progress, equity and environmental protection. It is also thoroughly mainstreamed in strategies, and plans for development of branches, domains and regions (the Strategy for Sustainable Development of Vietnam of the 2001-2010, and of the 2011-2020 period, the Agenda 21 (7), the Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and many programs and plans to implement international commitments on sustainable development that Vietnam has signed); in the development of science and technology, education and training, and human resource development. Awareness raising and communication activities have been strengthened for inclusion , active and conscious participation of all levels, sectors and the entire community to realize the strategy for rapid and sustainable national development. Party committees, party organizations at all levels, branches and localities have regularly reminded, inspected and reviewed the implementation of Party viewpoints on rapid and sustainable development. These persistent and arduous efforts over the years have brought about positive results.

In the field of economy, in the period of 2001-2010, Vietnam s maintained a rapid growth rate, over 7% per year. In the ten years of 2006-2016, the economic growth rate decreased but still reached an average of 6.12% per year, which was quite high in the context of difficult domestic and international situation. Both GDP and GDP per capita went up. By 2015, Vietnam's GDP bagged almost US$200 billion, 3.95 times higher than 2006 (at current prices); GDP per capita reached $2,109 per year, three times higher than 2006. Viet Nam became a middle-income developing country. Positive progress has been made in industrialization and modernization, the proportion of industry and services in GDP has increased, and agriculture in GDP structure has dropped. The economic growth model has initially shifted from broad-based development to deepening development. Quality of growth has improved.

In ten years from 2006 to 2015, productivity increased averagely by 3.9% per year (in 2011-2015 it increased by 4.3% per year); investment capital was more effectively used; total factor productivity (TFP) contribution to GDP growth was up to 28.94% in 2011-2015. Vietnam's national competitiveness has been improved. According to the World Economic Forum's (WEF) ranking on aggregate competitiveness index, Vietnam's position rose in recent years, in 2016 it was 60 over 138 economies.

In the social field, positive achievements have been made in hunger eradication, poverty reduction, job creation, healthcare, development of culture, science and technology, education and training, social security, thus people's live has improved. Vietnam fulfilled several Millennium Development Goals ahead of schedule. The rate of poor households has fallen by an average of 2% per year, from 15.5% in 2006 to 4.5% in 2015. The unemployment rate for among working age population in 2015 was 2.3%. Vietnam completed universalization of junior secondary education, and vocational training has been strengthened. The trained workforce in 2015 reached 27.88 million people, almost double 2006’s number of 14.36 million, accounting for 51.64% of the labor force. Social housing has been given attention and investment. Per capita housing area went up from 17.5m2 in 2010 to 22m2 by 2015. The system of medical facilities, medical services have reached out to all communes and villages throughout the country; many diseases, dangerous epidemics have been eliminated; Vietnamese people’s size and physical strength have improved. Average life expectancy has been raised to 73.3 years by 2015.

Environmental protection and response to climate change has been strengthened. Awareness and sense of responsibility for environmental protection have been promoted. Measures to protect the environment, prevent and handle cases of serious pollution have been actively carried out. The rate of collecting and treating hazardous wastes has accounted for 75%, solid medical wastes 80%; 90% of serious environmental pollution cases was handled in 2015. Attention has been given to conservation of nature and biodiversity, protection and development of forests. Many ecological preserves have been established; illegal hunting and trafficking of wildlife are prohibited. Forest coverage expanded to about 40.7% by 2015. The percentage of the urban population using clean water was 82%, and the percentage of the rural population using clean water was 86%. Many programs and projects for green development, green consumption, economical use of materials, raw materials, energy, development of new energy sources and environmental-friendly new materials are encouraged. Construction of dykes, embankments and mangrove forest planting to prevent river and coastal landslide, construction of salinity prevention gates, change of crop patterns and plant varieties to respond to climate change have been stepped up.

However, besides achievements, there remain constraints in the rapid and sustainable development in Vietnam.

Economic growth rate is unstable and tends to slow down (it was over 7% in 2001-2005, 6.32% in 2006-2010, and 5.91% in 2011-2015). Vietnam's GDP and GDP per capita are low compared to many developing countries. Economic growth is still broad-based, and capital contributed 66.73% to GDP growth in the 2011-2015 period; the use of resources is wasteful and inefficient. Growth quality is low, improvement is slow; Labor productivity is low compared to many countries in the region. The Incremental Capital-Output Ratio (ICOR) is much higher than other countries in the region (in which state sector investment is smallest). National competitiveness has not highly improved. Macroeconomics is not stable with potential risks of bad debts, public debts, unbalanced state budget revenues and expenditures; risks due to exchange rate fluctuations; threats to water security, and climate change.

There are weaknesses in the field of culture and social affairs which are overcome slowly. Slow labor restructuring; labor share in the agricultural sector is large. The number of unemployed and unstable workers is still high. The life of a part of the people remains difficult, especially in remote, isolated and ethnic minority areas. Poverty reduction is not sustainable and the risk of poverty relapse remains high. The gap between the rich and the poor between the regions and population groups is likely to rise. Social security policy is not complete, and unable to reach out to all targets. The quality of education and training is still low, especially in higher education and vocational training, and has not met development requirements. The quality of medical examination and treatment has not met requirements, especially at grassroots level. The cultural, ethical, and lifestyle environment is worrying. Spiritual and cultural life in many places is poor, there is a large gap between regions and objects in terms of cultural enjoyment. Problems in social law and order and safety have occurred but have been slowly resolved.

Resources are not economically and effectively managed, exploited, and used. Environmental pollution is slowly resolved; environmental pollution in many places is serious, especially in some craft villages, production establishments, industrial parks, industrial clusters and river basins. Energy- and raw material-intensive backward technologies, excessive development of small and medium hydropower projects, excessive use of chemical fertilizers, and pesticides have caused bad impacts on environment and have been solved slowly. There remain constraints in forest protection and development. Biodiversity has declined. Many species, valuable precious genetic resources have been on the verge of extinction; ecological imbalances have occured on a large scale. There have been difficulties in overcoming the consequences of environmental pollution caused by the war. Efforts to response to climate change have been slow, passive and confused.

Although positive achievements have been made in rapid and sustainable development in recent years, they have not commensurated with the potential of the country; the development of the country is not economically, socially and environmentally rapid and sustainable; many issues need to be resolved.

There are causes to this situation including the following main ones:

First, the viewpoint on rapid and sustainable development has not been thoroughly grasped. Awareness on the importance, as well as knowledge of the content of rapid and sustainable development in some sectors, localities, part of the population are not sufficient; some Party committees have not been resolute in implementing the strategy.

Second, the socialist-oriented market economy mechanism has been perfected slowly. There remain constraints in State management effeciency and effectiveness which are slowly overcome. The legal system, policies and mechanisms for rapid and sustainable development have been developed but not synchronized, overlapped and unstable, creating no breakthrough in mobilization, allocation and efficient use of resources. The business investment environment has not been transparent, stable, equal for businesses of all economic sectors. Law enforcement has been weak.

Third, the quality of many strategies, programs and plans for rapid and sustainable development of branches, sectors and regions has remained low. Growth model reform and economic restructuring have been slow. There is limitation in the development of economic sectors. Many markets have slowly developed, and have not operated smoothly. Scientific and technological development, quality of education and training and human resources have been low and changed slowly.

Fourth, economic, cultural and social development, environmental protection, proactive response to climate change at times in several places, branches and localities have not been closely combined; there are cases where adequate attention has not been paid to social issues and environmental protection due to more concern over economic growth.

Lessons learnt

In the time to come, the deepening international integration, the fourth industrial revolution, complicated developments in the world and global climate change will caused great impacts on rapid and sustainable development of Vietnam. In that context, reviewing the achievements and limitations in the process of rapid and sustainable development over the past time, Vietnam has drawn some lessons to improve its leadership in rapid and sustainable development in the coming years.

First, Vietnam affirms that rapid and sustainable development is the correct development strategy that needs to be resolutely and persistently carried out. In face of rapid changes, complicated developments, it is necessary to step up theoretical study, attach importance to review practices, especially new models and good experiences; regularly grasp and forecast new developments so as to promptly identify and adjust lines, tasks and solutions for rapid and sustainable development; harmonize the relationship between rapid and sustainable development, between immediate and long-term interests, between economic and social development and environmental protection in accordance with reality of Vietnam. Promote and improve the quality of communication and education in order to raise the awareness of the whole society about the strategy and objectives of rapid and sustainable development of the country.

Second, lead the building and perfecting institutions, legal systems, mechanisms and policies for rapid and sustainable development, especially the socialist-oriented market economy mechanism and international integration for rapic and sustainable economic development, closely associate economic growth with the realization of social progress and equity, environment protection, consolidation of national defense and security. Heighten the quality of building and improving institutions while strengthening discipline, order, effectiveness, and and efficiency of institution, law and policy observance.

Third, the viewpoint and objectives of rapid and sustainable development must be thoroughly mastered and integrated into the content of socio-economic development strategies and plans of the country, ministries, branches, localities, and agencies. Develop and promulgate specific criteria for rapid and sustainable development in economic, social and environmental fields. Step up supervising and inspecting the implementation of rapid and sustainable development tasks and objective at all levels, branches and localities.

Fourth, focus on leading and directing the growth model renewal, promote and improve the quality of science and technology, education and training, the quality of human resources for science and technology, education and training, making high quality human resources really the most important resource and the strong driving force for rapid and sustainable development of the country.

Fifth, promote internal and external resources for rapid and sustainable development. Attach importance to internal resources promotion, especially human resources, natural resource exploitation and the best use of State resources. Facilitate the healthy development of private economy in the right direction so that it becomes an important motive force of the economy. Attract and effectively use external resources, such as capital, knowledge, technology, management skills and market to supplement internal resources in the process of rapid and sustainable development.

Sixth, renew the leadership style, heighten the Party's leadership and fighting capacity; strengthen the effectiveness and efficiency of the State management. Accelerate administrative reform; streamline the organizational apparatus and raise the quality of cadres and public servants. Step up and raise the efficiency of the fight against bureaucracy, corruption, wastefulness, political, moral and lifestyle degradation, "group interests" among cadres, Party members, public and civil servants. Build a contingent of qualified and capable cadres meeting development requirements.

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(1) Documents of the National Party Congresses of the renovation period (the 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th Congresses), the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2010, P. I, p. 40

(2) Documents of the 9th National Party Congress, the National Political Publishing House, Hanoi, 2001, p. 25

(3) Documents of the 11th National Party Congress, the National Political Publishing House - Truth, Hanoi, 2011, pp. 21-22

(4), (5) Documents of the 12th National Party Congress, Central Party Office, Hanoi, 2016, pp. 270, 87

(6) Documents of the 4th Plenum of the Party Central Committee, 12th Tenure, Office of the Party Central Committee, Hanoi, 2016, p. 55

(7) The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992 launched an Action Plan for Sustainable Development, called Agenda 21. In implementing the United Nations Plan, in August 2000, the Government of Viet Nam issued the "Strategic Orientation for Sustainable Development in Viet Nam" (called Vietnam Agenda 21)

This article was published in Communist Review No. 899 (September 2017)

Vo Van Thuong, Member of the PolitburoSecretary of the Party Central Committee, Head of the Commission for Communication and Education of the Party Central Committee