Mekong Delta provinces have so far poured more than 91.8 trillion VND (4.1 billion USD) into building new-style rural areas in 1,300 communes, said the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region.

According to Nguyen Phong Quang, deputy head of the committee’s standing board, the money has been used in transport, irrigation, electricity, education, healthcare and housing.

As a result, the region’s growth rate saw a year-on-year increase of 9 percent in 2013 with agriculture up 4 percent, the export of farm produce up 10.6 percent, and industry up 11.9 percent.

Last year, the region’s average per capita income stood at 34.6 million VND (1,600 USD), 2.3 million VND higher than that recorded in 2012, Quang said.

Nearly 2,700 class rooms were built, he said, adding that the drop-out rate was cut to 0.69 percent and 97.5 percent of school-age children have gained access to classes.

Programmes on education, health insurance, housing and vocational training, among others, have been implemented effectively.

There are 21 communes in the region meeting at least 15 criteria required for building new-style rural areas and 320 others satisfying 10-14 criteria.

Building infrastructure, improving production capacity, protecting the environment and promoting local traditions and cultural identities are among the criteria for building the new rural areas – a programme launched by the Government in 2010.-VNA