International donors have pledged to provide close to 6.5 billion USD in official development assistance (ODA) to Vietnam in 2013, a decline of 1 billion USD from last year.

According to Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh, the commitments were made at the last term of the 2012 Consultative Group (CG) Meeting, which took place in Hanoi on December 10.

2013 is forecast to remain a difficult year for not only Vietnam but donor countries, said Vinh, who expressed his wish for the international donor community to continue assisting Vietnam as ODA remains an important source for the country’s poverty reduction and development investment.

Vietnam pledges to continue close coordination and cooperation with donors to accelerate the implementation of projects and improve the efficiency use of ODA, Vinh said.

The minister also informed that from 2013, the CG Meeting will change to the Vietnam Development Partnership Forum (VDPF), co-chaired by the World Bank (WB) and the Vietnamese Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

The 2012 CG Meeting focused on Vietnam ’s economic situation and its 2013 priorities, creating foundations to successfully perform as a middle-income country, and amendments to the Land Law for comprehensive and sustainable development.

At the meeting, donors including the WB, the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in Vietnam , the European Union (EU), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the US , Japan , the Republic of Korea and representatives from Group 4 (G4) applauded the Vietnamese Government’s efforts. They said the adoption of a Green Development Strategy is an important step to create jobs, increase productivity and improve the national economy’s competitiveness.

Sanjay Kalra, IMF Resident Representative in Vietnam , said together with consolidating economic stabilisation achievements, Vietnam should continue to tighten macroeconomic policies to curb inflation and improve confidence in the currency.

To reach this goal, the fiscal policy should continue to support economic stabilisation efforts while the monetary policy focuses on inflation control.

The IMF representative affirmed his organisation will always stand side-by side-with Vietnam to strengthen the financial region, including technical assistance activities.

He said that in 2009, Vietnam officially became a middle-income country. However, if Vietnam does not have sound policies to overcome the “middle-income trap”, the status presents many challenges ahead.

One of the challenges Vietnam must overcome is the development of a skilled labour force that can meet the requirements of the industrialised economy by 2020. It is one of the country’s top priorities in the years to come, he noted.

Emphasising the importance of human resources, an UN representative in Vietnam said that if the country wants to develop and become rich in today’s rapidly changing world, it should pay special attention to building a skilled workforce.

A young labour force should have the necessary skills to do their jobs and contribute to society, he added.

To develop a contingent of skilled workers, a WB representative proposed solutions to improve the quality of human resources for all concerned parties, including employers and employees.

Foreign non-governmental organisations (NGOs) at the meeting highlighted the need to provide early education to children by improving pre-school and primary education programmes.

Investment in education will help boost Vietnam ’s socio-economic development, they said.

Regarding the revised Land Law, a representative from the Vietnamese Ministry of National Resources and Environment stressed that Land Law amendments aim to ensure the effective and fair use of land for economic growth, poverty reduction, food security as well as increasing international competitiveness, social harmony and a sustainable environment./.VNA