A new-style rural area must satisfy 19 specific criteria, including targets in transportation, irrigation and power supply (Illu​strative image. Source: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Members of the Standing Committee of the 14th National Assembly (NA) discussed a report on the NA’s supervision over the national target programme on new-style rural area building during their meeting on October 5.

According to Chairman of the NA Economic Committee Vu Hong Thanh, who heads the NA Supervision Group for the programme, the programme has been actively responded by the entire society and recorded significant results.

As of December 31, 2015, as many as 1,526 communes, or 17.1 percent of the total communes nationwide, reached all 19 criteria of the programme, he said, adding that the figure rose to 1,761, equivalent to 19.7 percent by March 2016.

At the same time, 1,223 communes, accounting for 13.7 percent, accomplished 15-18 criteria, while 3,355 communes fulfilled 10-14 criteria and 2,270 communes completed 5-9 criteria. Only 326 communes, or 3.65 percent, finished less than five criteria, reported Thanh.

Under the programme, a new-style rural area must satisfy 19 specific criteria, including targets in planning and implementation of the planning, transportation, irrigation, power supply, schools, cultural infrastructure system, locals’ average per capital income, poverty ratio, and the environment.

As of September this year, 2,045 communes, accounting for 23 percent, were recognised as new-style rural areas, along with 24 district-level localities.

However, Thanh also noted that a number of shortcomings, including the slow issuance of guiding documents and the criteria having requirements unsuitable for socio-economic situation of specific areas. These have affected the efficiency and sustainability of the programme.

The transformation of rural economic structure has still been sluggish, while the connectivity between agricultural production, processing and consumption has been poor, and policies supporting the large-scaled farm models have yet been attractive enough, he stated.

Thanh also highlighted the problem of high debts of capital construction, noting that 53 out of the 63 localities nationwide are bearing a debt of about 17.27 trillion VND (77.4 million USD), with some of them becoming insolvent.

Notably, debts owed by localities in the Red River delta and northern central regions, which are leading the country in the programme, accounted for 75.3 percent of the total debts, while combined debts in communes recognised as new-style rural areas made up 46.9 percent of the country’s total figure, Thanh said.

Although the total debts accounted for only 1.8 percent of the total resources mobilised for the programme and 5.7 percent of the State budget allocated for it, the situation has still posed risks to the progress of the programme.

To deal with the issue, Nguyen Van Giau, head of the NA Committee for External Relations, proposed that the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development should work with the Ministry of Finance to seek solutions. He suggested stopping advancing capital for localities without a plan of payment.

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong affirmed that the ministry will direct localities to settle the debts.

Representative from the Supervising Group suggested that the debts should be tackled completely in 2017. However, NA Vice Chairman Uong Chu Luu doubted the feasibility of the goal, as the seeking of resources to pay for the debt has till been unworkable.

In the afternoon of October 5, the NA Standing Committee gave opinions on a report on the NA’s supervision over the settlement of voters’ feedback and proposals sent to the 11th session of the 13 th NA, and a report on the reception of citizens and the handling of citizens’ requests and complaints in 2016.-VNA