The northwestern region needs to strongly advertise its strength and promote trade activities abroad in order to attract foreign investment, Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has said.

The Deputy PM, who heads the Steering Committee for the Northwestern Region, made the demand at a January 15 conference reviewing the committee’s work in 2013 and setting tasks for 2014 in the regional province of Son La.

He told regional provinces to collaborate more closely with authorised agencies to devise effective measures so as to ensure security and order in the region, as well as national sovereignty.

The steering committee and provinces should hasten to restructure the agricultural sector and build new-style rural areas, as well as develop industrial and economic zones, he argued.

Meanwhile, they also need to overhaul existing policies for nomadic ethnic groups to help settle their lives, he said, asking for the intensified application of science and technology.

Deputy head of the steering committee Truong Xuan Cu reported that the region’s gross domestic product rose by 9.4 percent in 2013, and per capita income was up some 3 million VND (143 USD) from 2012 to 21.5 million VND (1,024 USD).

The rate of poverty-stricken households witnessed a yearly decrease of 3 percent to stand at 22.5 percent.

The region collected over 21 trillion VND (1 billion USD) in taxes for the State budget last year, a year-on-year increase of 18 percent.

Educational facilities have been upgraded with 64 percent of classrooms built permanently. At the same time, 36.1 percent of regional communes have met national standards on healthcare, 3.7 percent higher than 2012, Cu said.

Provinces have ensured political security, social order and safety along with the stability of situation along areas sharing borderlines with Laos and China.

They have also institutionalised the Ordinance on Religions and Beliefs and the guidelines of the Party’s Central Committee so as to favour local religious practices, he added.

At the conference, representatives of the State Bank of Vietnam, ministries and provinces like Dien Bien, Ha Giang and Tuyen Quang raised suggestions for the regional socio-economic development.

On this occasion, the steering committee presented certificates of merit to 12 collectives and individuals who have made great contributions to the region’s development.-VNA