Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong has seen a lot of work ahead for the disadvantaged northwestern mountainous region to catch up with the nation, despite its huge socio-economic achievements last year.

At a meeting held in Tuyen Quang province on February 15, Trong told the Northwestern Steering Board, of which he is chair, that the region has made slow progress in developing a commodity economy and wasted a number of advantages.

“The regional per-capita income remains low, the poverty rate is high and the rate of skilled workers is lagging behind the nation as they make up just 30.2 percent of the regional workforce against the national average of 40 percent,” said the Deputy PM.

Drug trafficking is getting worse and the number of drug users and HIV-AIDS carriers remain huge, he pointed out.

Trong called on the regional leaders to pay attention to human resource development, especially training for grassroots cadres and those from ethnic minorities.

It is necessary to speed up transfer of technology and application of technical and scientific advances by strengthening cooperation between enterprises and farmers, push up economic restructuring and better tap the potential of each sub-region, he emphasised.

He also pointed out the need to expand intensive farming and develop craft villages, while tapping cultural, historic and ecological advantages in service of tourism.

Efforts should be taken to curb social evils, especially drug-related crimes and HIV-AIDS, as well as to speed up administrative reforms and the fight against corruption and waste as a measure to attract investment, Trong said.

The region last year recorded a high GDP growth rate at 12.55 percent, representing a year-on-year increase of 3.17 percent.

The State-funded poverty alleviation programme for 43 poor districts in the region has helped bring the regional poverty rate down by 3.85 percent to 18.77 percent./.