The southern economic hub, Ho Chi Minh City , has set a target of attaining an annual economic growth rate of 12 percent, 1.5 times higher than the country’s average level, in the next five years.

The target was set at a conference on the city’s socio-economic development plans and tasks in the 2011-2015 period, hosted by the Ho Chi Minh City People’s Council on March 10.

The conference also defined that economic growth must be coupled with social advance and equity, and environmental protection, looking towards sustainable development and a knowledge-based economy with the improved material and spiritual lives of local people.

The city also strives to reach a per-capita GDP of 4,800 USD in 2015.

In the next five years, HCM City will prioritise developing the service sector in an effort to raise its annual growth to 13 percent and become a significant service centre in Southeast Asia .

To reach the goal, the city will focus on nine major groups, namely banking-insurance, trade, tourism, transport service-port and storage, post-telecommunication-information technology-communications, real estate, consultancy-science-technology, health, and education-training.

The city’s industrial and agricultural growth rates are expected to reach 11 percent and 5 percent per year respectively.

In the field of social welfare, Ho Chi Minh City will try its best to reduce its poverty rate to less than 2 percent and ensure clean water access to 98 percent of urban households.

According to Chairperson of the municipal People’s Council Pham Phuong Thao, to reach these goals, the city should speed up the mobilisation of all social resources, both in and outside the country, especially capital sources./.