Despite being heavily affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, with the care and support of the central government and the effort of the Party, government, people and business community, Bac Lieu province has basically completed the dual goals of drastically preventing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting people's health, and recovering socioeconomic development. Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr. Pham Van Thieu, Chairman of Bac Lieu Provincial People's Committee. Hoang Ngoc reports.
In 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in many provinces and cities, including Bac Lieu province. How did the pandemic affect the local socioeconomic situation?
In 2021, given complicated domestic and global economic developments, Vietnam in general and Bac Lieu in particular continued to face numerous difficulties and challenges, especially the COVID-19 pandemic that adversely impacted all aspects of social and economic life. Manufacturing, business, trade and service shrank steeply.
Owing to pandemic impacts, in 2021, nine out of 19 socioeconomic targets failed to reach their given plans. Public investment disbursement progressed slowly. The service sector confronted mounting difficulties, especially tourism, accommodation, catering and passenger transport. More enterprises suspended their business operations and went bankrupt over the previous year. Some industrial products plunged sharply. More redundancies appeared and work days declined, resulting in a decrease and unstable income of employees. Grassroots health care capacity was insufficient and weak. Preventive medicine was unfocused. The coverage of health insurance policyholders sank. Online teaching and learning exposed a lot of shortcomings.
Overcoming existing difficulties, what positive outcomes has Bac Lieu achieved in the past year?
With the care and support of the central government and the effort of the Party, government, people and business community to achieve the dual goals of drastically preventing and combating the COVID-19 pandemic and protecting people's health, and recovering socioeconomic development, Bac Lieu province obtained many important results. Particularly, aquatic production rose by 8.84% year on year (farmed shrimp output jumped 22.12%). The renewable energy industry underwent drastic changes. In 2021, seven wind power projects with a combined installed capacity of 370 MW were completed and put into operation, bringing total wind power plants to eight with a combined installed capacity of 469.2 MW in the province. Total social investment value increased 15.7%. Local budget revenue fulfilled 109.29% of the target.
Of 19 targets in the year, 10 were achieved and exceeded their given plans. Notably, economic growth was estimated at 5.05%, lower than the target of 9 - 10% set for 2021 in the Resolution. However, compared to 13 Mekong Delta provinces and cities, this growth was highest and ranked 30th out of 63 localities nationwide. The economic structure continued to shift in the desired pattern.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seriously affected businesses, investors and people. What policies has Bac Lieu province taken to ensure social security and support investors and businesses?
The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively hit the Vietnamese economy, including Bac Lieu province, with the hardest blows on people, investors and businesses. To protect more vulnerable ones and leave no one behind, the province has actively encouraged all economic sectors inside and outside the province, together with the government, to support people and businesses in difficult circumstances to overcome this period together.
To date, the province has supported 186,782 people with a total aid of over VND336,539 million, including 4,822 companies and business households with over VND26,855 million and the Vietnam Bank for Social Policies (VBSP) - Bac Lieu Branch with VND15 billion to lend the poor, policy beneficiaries, and those affected by COVID-19. The province reviewed and grasped recruitment needs of companies and job needs of workers to have suitable recommendations for them, especially producers that fell short of workers; coordinated with Ho Chi Minh City, Binh Duong, Dong Nai and other provinces to connect and support workers to return to work. In addition, the province launched plans to support vocational training, create jobs, build or repair houses for people and carry out social security policies for local workers impacted by COVID-19, particularly returned but unemployed workers, to have access to employment and accommodation to live through difficulties and stabilize their livelihoods.
In addition, the province promptly and effectively implemented the Government’s Resolution 105/NQ-CP dated September 9, 2021 on support for enterprises, cooperatives and business households in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic to make sure that pandemic prevention and control at the grassroots level is suitable for local situation localities; and actively searched for solutions to accelerate business establishment. In particular, Bac Lieu set up a special working group responsible for helping businesses and people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, realizing the commitment of “always accompanying investors and businesses” to overcome difficulties. The locality stepped up investment incentives to create the best business investment environment for enterprises, consistent with its policy of “what is easy, it is for businesses; what is difficult, it is for state agencies” and “Say no to unofficial expenses”. Bac Lieu also organized government - business seminars, meetings and dialogues to grasp thoughts and aspirations of businesses to have best policies to assist them deal with existing difficulties and challenges to feel secure in production and business.
Bac Lieu is considered to have great potential to become a social and economic development center in the Ca Mau Peninsula. Which economic sectors will Bac Lieu give priority to?
To boost its potential and strengths, Bac Lieu will focus on breakthrough stages and give priority to developing some economic sectors like climate-resilient sustainable agriculture and value chain, focused on high-tech shrimp farming. The province will become a shrimp breeding center of the nation.
The province has boosted industrial development, with breakthroughs being renewable energy, electricity, natural gas and seafood processing industry, striving to turn Bac Lieu into one of clean and renewable energy centers of the country.
It will foster tourism development to become an important economic sector of the province and serve as one of tourist centers of the Mekong Delta region.
Trade, service, education and high-quality healthcare will be developed. Bac Lieu province will continue to attract investment in high-quality education projects; scale up high-quality primary and secondary education; build high-quality medical models; develop high technology for healthcare at provincial and district levels; and facilitate conditions for investors to accelerate their high-quality health projects.
The province will boost marine economic development, ensure national defense and security, and strengthen its role as a pillar of the economy.
By Vietnam Business Forum