Last Cabinet meeting heated up with natural disaster-related issues hinh anh 1March Cabinet meeting (Source:
Hanoi (VNA) – How to ease losses caused by drought and saltwater intrusion that are afflicting the Mekong Delta, south-central and Central Highlands regions dominated the Government’s monthly meeting in Hanoi on March 26.

This was the last meeting for 20 out of 27 Cabinet members as they are scheduled to assume new posts assigned by the Politburo and the Party Central Committee, or to retire next month, said Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in his opening remarks.

A report presented by Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh shows that in the first quarter of this year, despite achievements in macro-economic stabilisation with GDP estimated at 5.46 percent and curbed inflation, the national economy still faced a multitude of difficulties due to the severe impacts of drought and salinity.

Natural disasters have pushed down agricultural, forestry and fishery production, he said, warning that if such problems linger, the country’s annual GDP growth rate is expected to stand at only about 5.45 percent this year, a far cry from the 6.7 percent set by the National Assembly.

According to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat, his ministry is partnering with localities to adjust crop structure and cultivation methods, while applying biological solutions to ensure water resources for irrigation.

The ministry has also guided people to focus on animal breeding in a bid to make good the damage to the farming sector, he added.

The official informed the meeting that international organisations and the UN have scoped out saltwater encroachment in Vietnam and plan to add the country to the list of El Nino hit nations in need of support.

He suggested the Government promptly allocate 538 billion VND (24.2 million USD) to assist those affected by the phenomenon, especially more than 1 million people facing water shortages.

Regarding this problem, PM Nguyen Tan Dung called on Cabinet members to create both long and short-term solutions to cope with the impacts of climate change, and speed up relief aid to natural disaster stricken localities.

Measures to shift the agricultural structure should be put in place to ease the difficulties being burdened by farmers, he said, urging greater efforts to be made in opening up the market and increasing exports.

He asked Cabinet members to keep a close watch on the areas under their charge in order to meet the targets set by the legislature, particularly GDP growth rate at 6.7 percent this year.

The leader underscored the need for the Cabinet to swiftly stablise its organisation following new personnel arrangements, to be decided during the ongoing 11 th meeting of the 13 th National Assembly.

Removing difficulties hindering the industrial, agricultural and service sectors is the key task set for the Government during this ongoing period, he noted.

Cabinet members also devoted a lot of time to deal with food safety. Secretary of the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee Dinh La Thang suggested establishing an agency in charge of this area in the southern metropolis, and strengthening punishments for violations of food safety regulations.

Other issues raised at the meeting included the 30 trillion loan package for social housing projects, which was proposed to be expanded until the end of 2016, and the draft demonstration law.-VNA