Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue at the event (Source: VNA)

Can Tho (VNA) – The Southwest region recorded a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) growth of 6.9 percent, higher than the nation’s average of 6.21 percent, in 2016.

The region saw a surge in total retail sales of goods, exceeding 13 percent, almost double the national figure. Regional budget collection also exceeded its target by 11.3 percent

The figures were released by Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue at a conference to review the work of the Southwest Region Steering Committee in 2016 and discuss plans for 2017 in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on January 8.

The Committee worked with regional localities to instruct, coordinate and support localities in socio-economic issues, national security, ethnicity and religious affairs, among others, said Hue, who is also Head of the Committee.

He hailed efforts the region made to overcome difficulties like historic droughts and salt water intrusion in 2016.

Elections for the 14th National Assembly and the People’s Councils at all levels for 2016-2021 were successfully held across the region, Hue added.

However, the Deputy PM pointed to several shortcomings in the region, including a slowing economic growth rate, low GRDP per capita, poor FDI appeal and struggles in enterprises development, labour training, health care services, traffic infrastructure and new-style rural areas.

He requested the Committee continue consulting the Government on incentives for the region to develop, with a focus on its strategic tasks.

He assigned ministries to accelerate planning work, including zoning off areas for adapting to climate change and restructuring and to develop regional connectivity and values chain for the four key agricultural products of the region; shrimp, tra fish, rice and fruit.

Investment is needed in the traffic network, such as the National Road 60, Quan Lo - Phung Hiep, and the national road section through Ca Mau city.

Localities in the region were also directed to complete planning on education and health care development while focusing on ethnicity issues, religious affairs, national defence, border, economic and traditional security.

In 2017, the region aims to achieve a GRDP growth of 7.9 percent. It also targets earning 22 billion USD from export, collects 75.5 trillion VND (3.32 billion USD) for the state budget. Its total investment is expected to reach 317.9 trillion VND (13.98 billion USD).-VNA