The Mekong delta cities and provinces should focus their investments on traffic and irrigation systems, education and healthcare when pursuing a new rural programme, said a senior government official.

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung, Head of the Steering Committee for the South-western Region, made the suggestion while chairing a meeting of the committee in Bac Lieu province on June 28 to review its performance in the first half and discuss major tasks for the rest of the year.

Leaders from relevant ministries and agencies, and 13 cities and provinces in the region attended the meeting.

As the country’s biggest granary, the Mekong delta needs to invest more into building comprehensive infrastructure, rural roads and irrigation networks in order to ensure the nation’s food security as well as rice and aquatic product supply for domestic consumption and exports, Hung said.

He asked the region to pay due attention to training and education, especially for ethnic minority people-inhabited and isolated areas where a large number of students have dropped out of school and vocational training is lacking in both terms of availability and quality.

On health care, the deputy PM said, along with speeding up the disbursement of investment for the construction and upgrading of medical infrastructure and equipment, the region must strive to provide better healthcare service to local people, particularly when severe diarrhoea and inter-season diseases in children are occurring in several localities.

Reports delivered at the conference show that, despite various difficulties in the first six months of this year, the region has reaped many socio-economic achievements, with high growth rates recorded in industrial production, trade and service industry.

Its rice output in the winter-spring crop reached 10.3 million tonnes, 420,000 tonnes higher than the same crop last year, while the aquatic product output hit almost 649,000 tonnes and industrial production value was estimated at 57.61 trillion VND (over 3 billion USD), up 16 percent from the same period a year ago.

During the reviewed period, the region’s cities and provinces raked in 2.66 billion USD from exports, a year-on-year rise of 10.6 percent, making up 10 percent of the nation’s total export turnover. The Mekong delta contributed half of the country’s total rice exports and 60 percent of aquatic export earnings.

The conference noted that a comprehensive cooperation programme has helped enhance the connectivity between these cities and provinces with the southern largest economic hub of Ho Chi Minh City .

Provinces bordering Cambodia such as Kien Giang, An Giang, Dong Thap and Long An have also carried out programmes to strengthen cooperation with their Cambodian counterparts, boost cross-border trade, develop border gate economic zones and organise trade fairs in the neighbouring country./.