NMinister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh is among ministers giving explanations on November 3 (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) - The National Assembly heard explanations presented by two ministers on policies for ethnic minorities and mountainous regions, and the environmental impacts of power plants, among other issues, at the November 3 morning session.

Minister-Chairman of the Committee for Ethnic Affairs Do Van Chien reported that among important policies for ethnic minorities and mountainous regions during 2016-2020, the Prime Minister has instructed raising capital allocation for extremely disadvantaged areas by two to four times compared to other areas. Under the national target programme on sustainable poverty reduction, ethnic minority-inhabited areas benefit from two projects – the 18-trillion VND investment programme on socio-economic developments in poor districts (Programme 30a) and the 16-trillion VND Programme 135 for rural areas, with three components for ethnic areas as against two components for other rural areas.

In addition to overall policies, the Prime Minister issued other policies designed specifically for ethnic and mountainous areas, including the specific scheme on supporting socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas for 2017-2020; a project on supporting socio-economic development of ethnic groups with very small populations for 2016-2025; and a plan of forest development in combination with sustainable poverty reduction in the target areas.

Moreover, there is also Decree 52 on human resource development for ethic minority groups, and a freshly-approved plan on measures to reduce child marriage and marriage amongst blood relatives.

Minister Do Van Chien added that the Committee for Ethnic Affairs has submitted three more plans to the Government for approval.

According to the Minister, the Government has adjusted its forms of support for ethnic and mountainous areas, changing its focus from families to communities and paying more attention to creating livelihoods, with a view to reduce reliance on aid. The provision of grants is replaced by provison of loans at preferential interest rates.

He also noted the need to give provincial and district authorities more management power and promote the community’s participation and monitoring role in development projects.

There are 5,359 communes in 457 districts of 52 centrally-run cities and provinces classified as ethnic minority and mountainous areas, with a population of 13.4 million, of which more than 8 million people are of ethnic minority groups.

The issue of environmental impacts from hydro and thermal electric power plants, Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh said this is a priority of the industrial sector, as those two sources of power will continue to play a key role in power supply until 2025.

He stressed that the ministry and related agencies have paid attention to this issue, requiring power projects to use advanced technology. However, the problem is the main contractor and sub-contractors failed to obey, or were incapable of obeying relevant rules on environmental protection. The minister admitted that this is a lesson for state management agencies and investors.

Regarding the impacts of hydro power projects on local communities, Minister Tran Tuan Anh affirmed that the ministry attaches great importance to the interest of relocated communities and social development in affected areas, adding that the ministry has submitted a detailed report on this issue.

The National Assembly continued to discuss issues related to the implementation of the socio-economic development plan for 2016 and the plan for 2017 in the afternoon of November 3.-VNA