Ho Chi Minh City: Economic Development and Social Welfare

11:31:50 PM | 9/7/2012

In the first half of 2012, overcoming difficulties and challenges, Ho Chi Minh City has exceeded the plan of socio-economic development. The following interview with Ms Nguyen Thi Hong, Vice-Chair of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee, explains further the success of the city in economic development and social welfare, the driving force of Vietnam economy. My Chau reports.
In the first 6 months of 2012, the Vietnam economy faced many difficulties. How was the situation in Ho Chi Minh City?
In the first half of 2012, like the rest of Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City also confronted difficulties and challenges caused by the slow growth of the world economy, high prices of food and raw materials, decreasing domestic market, weaker purchasing power, increasing stockpiles, high interest rates, unavailable credits for production, slow-down in business activities, enterprises dissolved or inactive causing high employment rates, securities and real states markets being stagnant.
In face of such a situation, HCMC People’s Committee issued in time decisions and plans on socio-economic development and budget for 2012, implementing specific programmes and asking authorities at all levels to focus on management and attain objectives as planned.
In the first half of 2012, GDP of the city increased 8.1 percent, or 1.85 times higher than that of the whole country. CPI increased 2.05 percent compared with that of December2011. Retail sales and service turnover increased 21.3 percent. Industrial production index increased 5.4 percent. The number of foreign tourists visiting the city was 1.82 million, 10 percent more than the same period last year. Regarding FDI, from the beginning of the year to June 20, 184 new projects have been licensed with total investment capital of US$251.8 million increasing the number to 4,249 FDI projects with investment capital worth US$30.9 billion.
The city has implemented successfully programmes of market stabilization, removing difficulties and constraints of businesses and credit organizations, coordinating with ministries and central government to solve issues concerning banking, taxation and export. Successes have also been recorded in health and education, cultural and social fields, especially regarding target group and the poor. Political stability and social security have been maintained.
Those achievements are due to the joint efforts of the people and authorities of the city and will contribute significantly to the economic growth of the city in the second half of 2012.
 How will the city deal with existing difficulties affecting social stability and living conditions of the people?
Immediately after the government issuing Resolution 13/NQ-CP on measures to dismantle difficulties of businesses and market, the city developed a plan implementing the Resolution focusing on six solution packages as follows:
1) Implementing with high priority policies supportingbusinesses and business households in difficulty, cancelling, reducing or exempting taxes, announcing and applying formalities on cancellation, reduction or exemption of certain budget revenues.
 2) Removing constraints of businesses to promote trade, investment, brands and market expansion; developing trade, investment, tourism and service especially in potential and traditional markets of high export value; providing market information to businesses so that they can access and expand markets; increasing contacts with businesses, especially small and medium sized enterprises, to listen and solve existing issues; promoting the campaign “Vietnamese buy Vietnamese products”, continuing four programmes of market stabilization of 2012.
3) Continuing monetary policy of timeliness, flexibility and scrutiny to support business activities: implementing strictly and timely regulations of the State Bank on exchange and interest rates, credits, gold and foreign exchanges; giving high priority to credits for business activities, agriculture and rural development, export, supporting industries, small and medium sized enterprises.
4) Improving the management of city budget and mobilizing all resources for development: withdrawing of budget advance; accelerating the sales of houses and land and the tranfer of land use right to increase investments in urgent projects; accelerating administrative reform in taxation and customs services; speeding customs process and applying information technology in customs and banking services; mobilizing more social resources and especially FDI for key and pressing projects of the city.
5) Implementing solutions for social welfare.
6) Mobilizing the sympathy and support of the people and authorities of all levels to overcome difficulties and stablize the socio-economic development of the city.
I believe that with determination and efforts of the authorities of all levels and the sympathy and support of the people and businesses, the city economy will surmount difficulties and achieve important success in the second half of 2012, contributing to the socio-economic development of the whole country.
 In 2011, together with economic development, the city managed to improve its social welfare. How will you continue it this year?
By its tradition, together with economic development, the city has always improved spiritual and material life of the people, especially social welfare and care for target group.
Among 30 targets of socio-economic development in 2012, social welfare is high on the list of the city with 12 indexes on social conditions and 11 indexes on environment affecting the quality of life of the local people. The city will create 265,000 new jobs in 2012 instead of the present number of 125,000; trained workers will increase to 64 percent and unemployment decrease to 4.9 percent; poor households of the city poverty line will be down to 4.5 percent, 87 percent of urban households will be supplied with clean water, 98 percent of rural households with proper water; 100 percent of waste water is being treated.
Regarding education, 96.8 percent of five-year old children attend pre-school classes, 99.5 percent of of six-year old children attend Grade 1 classes and 98.5 percent of 11-14 year old children attend secondary schools. The education service continues to develop in sectors and levels. 795 new class rooms have been built since the beginning of this year with 44 projects of 2011 completed in 2012, thus increasing 1,014 more class rooms in 2012-2013 school-year.
With VND244,695 million of poverty reduction fund, the city is lending 33,966 poor households with a total of VND198,643 million. In addition, the Social Welfare Bank of the city has lended 55,101 pooor households with VND793,559 million, while VND650,553 million are lended to 48,117 households to support the education of their children and VND252,141 million for 33,977 housholds to attain clean water. 68,695 poor households have per capita income of VND12 million a year, making up 3.76 percent of the households of the city.
In addition, in 2012, the city will continue programmes of house donation, loans and monthly subsidiaries. Improvement will also be made in health service, education, power and water supply, communication and transport, reducing traffic accidents by 10 percent compared to 2011.
With those efforts and objectives, we expect that socio-economic development of the city will be upgraded successfully, social welfare ensured, quality of life improved, contributing further to the image of a city of dynamism, civilization and prosperity, beautiful and imbued with humanism.