Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has requested the Northwestern Steering Board and relevant agencies to work out a general socio-economic development plan and list key projects for investment that will make the northwestern region thrive.

At a conference to promote investment and social welfares for the Northwest in Tuyen Quang province on April 3, Phuc stressed that the region, situated in a strategic defence, security, and socio-economic location and endowed with plentiful natural resources, potentially fares well.

Regional localities should protect and expand forests to bring economic values for their residents and improve the efficiency of social welfare policies, especially eliminating makeshift houses for poor ethnic minorities and helping them escape from hunger, he said.

Phuc also asked the Hanoi National University to liaison with central and local science units to implement the key State-level sci-tech programmes, promote scientific studies, transfer technology and develop human resources for regional sustainable development.

Participants discussed ways to tap the region’s advantages in agro-forestry, aquaculture, and mineral mining, develop tourism, especially eco-tourism, and invest in transport infrastructure, human resources training and technology transfer.

Last year, the region mobilised over 96 trillion VND for development, including 32.6 trillion VND from the State budget and 10.4 trillion VND from State enterprises.

By late February, total foreign investment registered in the region hit 2.47 billion USD and official development assistance amounted to 2.6 billion USD. The sum was channeled mainly into agriculture and rural development, poverty reduction, transport, and education and training.

By late 2012, more than 58,000 households across the region escaped from poverty thanks to bank loans for production and trading. Nearly 105,000 students living in difficulty gained access to loans to further their studies.

Over the past five years, banks have contributed over 1.3 trillion VND (6 million USD) to funds for the poor in 14 regional provinces. The figure is expected to hit hundreds of billion VND for social welfares this year.

The northwestern region covers the provinces of Hoa Binh, Son La, Lai Chau, Dien Bien, Yen Bai, Lao Cai, Lang Son, Tuyen Quang, Phu Tho, Bac Kan, Cao Bang, Ha Giang and several western communes in Nghe An and Thanh Hoa.

At the event, investment certificates were granted to 26 projects capitalising at over 10.6 trillion VND.

An investment deal for 16 projects valued at 16.8 trillion VND (800 million USD) and a credit agreement for 15 projects worth more than 20 trillion VND (950 million USD) were also signed.-VNA