The Government will inject 1.7 trillionVND (80 million USD) into the national new rural-area programme in 2012, according to Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Cao Duc Phat.

Phat said at a online meeting chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh on April 20 that investment priorities will be given to communes that complete their new rural-area programmes by 2015.

This will ensure that 20 percent of the total number of communes in the country will complete their work in the new rural-area programme.

The goals of the national programme will also be adjusted so that they conform to localities' conditions and the country's new social and economic situation.

The Government began a pilot programme for the development of new rural areas in 11 communes nationwide in 2008.

The programme, whose major goal is to improve the livelihood of residents, focuses on improving infrastructure, environment protection, business and farming production, and culture. It also aims to strengthen the grassroots political system.

The model programme has given a new face to rural areas and a better life for residents, with the average income increasing by 62 percent at target communes, according to the Steering Committee of the New Rural Area Programme.

A report of the programme's steering committee says that 60 percent of the total communes nationwide have completed their general plans for the development of new rural areas.

Forty percent of them, or 3,650 communes, have had their detailed planning approved.

Phat said to facilitate the implementation of the new rural-area programme in localities in 2011, the Government spent 1.6 trillion VND from the State budget while localities contributed 6.6 trillionVND.

The funds were allocated for planning, transportation, irrigation, culture and telecommunications infrastructure as well as power, housing, labour structure and poverty reduction.

The agriculture minister, however, said that local authorities have not done well in educating residents and enterprises about the need for contributions to their native villages.

Thus, the development of the new rural area programme in localities still relies on funds from the State budget, although its funds are limited, according to Phat.

To help localities settle difficulties in developing the new rural area programmes, the steering committee will ask the Government to add a rural-credit policy to the national new rural area programme.

Under the rural credit policy, people and enterprises at communes eligible for the new rural area programme, as well as enterprises that want to invest into new rural-area projects, will have easier access to bank loans to develop their production and trading activities.-VNA