A conference was held in Hanoi on June 23 to review the implementation of agreements reached at the previous Vietnam Development Partnership Forum ( VDPF ), a policy dialogue forum between the Vietnamese Government and development partners functioning as a replacement for its predecessor, the Consultative Group (CG) Meeting.

Addressing the event, Deputy Minister of Investment and Planning (MPI) Nguyen The Phuong said the MPI has been working with relevant agencies and localities to implement commitments made at the VDPF, with a focus on poverty alleviation, especially among ethnic minority groups.

This includes drawing up, reviewing, revising and issuing new regulations and legal documents; reviewing existing programmes and policies; building new programmes; reducing the dispersal of policies; increasing coordination; integrating development goals; and increasing connections among policies.

Through cooperation between Vietnam and development partners represented by the World Bank, Vietnam has concentrated on important areas such as poverty alleviation, increasing disadvantaged groups’ access to services and the participation of the private sector in providing public services, protecting the environment and increasing the competitiveness of the workforce through vocational training and skill development.

According to the MPI’s report, poverty reduction efforts have helped improve living standards among ethnic minority groups.

The rate of impoverished households nationwide has fallen from 58 percent in 1993 to 5.97 percent in 2014 and the rate among ethnic minority households continues to fall by an average of three to four percent yearly.

In addition, 84.5 percent of rural population have access to safe water and 62 percent of households nationwide have toilets meeting hygienic standards.

The country has 1,456 vocational training centres, up 100 centres from 2014, and training curriculum has shifted to meet market demands and the requirements of economic development.

At the conference, experts proposed providing additional services to ethnic minority groups, integrating this idea into socio-economic plans and mobilising more resources for poverty elimination.

Victoria Kwakwa, the World Bank's Country Director for Vietnam, said development partners recognise Vietnam’s achievements in alleviating poverty.

Vietnam should, however, enact appropriate measures to improve the quality of its workforce as an important factor of economic development in the context of globalisation.

The country, she said, needs to complete legal frameworks and encourage private enterprises to invest in water supply, drainage and waste water treatment projects to increase the effectiveness of social capital and reduce the burden on the state budget.

Institutional reform is a prerequisite to restructuring the economy. Although in recent years, the Vietnamese Government has adjusted policies to befit a market economy, the efforts are only beginning steps.

She hoped that in 2015-2016, institutional reforms would continue and facilitate economic restructuring.

The VDPF was firstly held in 2013, replacing the Consultative Group Meeting of Donors. It reflects a shift in Vietnam’s status from a recipient of official development assistance (ODA) to a development partner of other countries and international organisations.

The VDPF 2014 focused on reforming economic institutions and strengthening self-reliance and competitiveness of the Vietnamese economy.-VNA