The Southwestern Region Steering Committee convened a conference in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho on February 5 to review last year’s activities and set new tasks for this year.

Speaking at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Vu Van Ninh, who is also head of the committee, lauded the region’s economic growth of nearly 10 percent, higher than the national average. Per capita income was 32.3 million VND (1,500 USD), which, according to him, was impressive considering the nation’s economic turmoil.

Ninh pointed out weaknesses in the region’s socio-economic development, such as unsustainable economic growth, inefficient policies for key national products, the slow uptake of technology in production, and poor coordination between ministries, departments and local authorities.

He asked the region to focus on developing the industry and remove obstacles in production and the property market, and tackle bad debt. Ninh said localities must work closely with ministries and departments to reform education and training, and implement social welfare policies, especially for poor people, ethnic minorities and beneficiary households.

The region needs to boost socio-economic development in line with developing agriculture and new rural areas, he said. The committee was also asked to ensure a warm New Year festival for all the people in the region.

The committee will aim to contain inflation, stabilise the macro-economy with 11 percent economic growth, raise the average per capita income to 37 million VND (1,760 USD) per annum, and generate 11 billion USD from exports (a year-on-year increase of 10 percent) this year.

It also expects to reduce the rate of poor households by 2 percent, generate 350,000 jobs and ensure 95 percent of people living in urban areas have clean water this year.-VNA