However, there still remain limitations, weaknesses, difficulties and challenges in the implementation process, requiring timely adjustments from relevant agencies as well as the determination of the entire political system.
Striving to improve farmers’ lives
In order to construct new-style rural areas, the National Assembly (NA) has promulgated and amended twelve laws relating to the field of agriculture and rural development. During the five years of their implementation, the Prime Minister has issued eighteen decisions and three directives and instructive documents, while ministries and sectors have issued 35 decisions and 34 circulars and documents guiding the implementation of the programme. These moves have shown the Party and State’s deep interest in building new-style rural areas with the aim of enhancing the material and spiritual lives of residents of rural areas who have faced disadvantages and difficulties in life.
The policy on the construction of new-style rural areas has changed the perception of the majority of the people and has drawn their participation in building new-style rural areas. While they once had a dependent mindset, always waiting for investment from the State, people in the countryside are now actively and proactively engaged in the campaign, contributing to spreading the new-style rural area building movement throughout the country in a vibrant fashion. Numerous changes have been made to rural infrastructure systems as well as to the faces of many rural communities. Living conditions, both material and spiritual, for a majority of rural people have significantly improved. Goods-based agricultural production has been respected and transformed, contributing actively to increasing the rural population’s income. As of September 2016, Vietnam had 2,061 communes (23.1% of its total number of communes) recognised as new-style rural areas and 299 communes (3.4%) meeting fewer than five of the criteria for being new-style rural areas. The average number of criteria per commune was 13.1, a surge of 8.4 criteria compared to 2010.
Infrastructure development has been the most conspicuous achievement of years of implementing the national target programme on building new-style rural areas, which has not only created favourable conditions for socioeconomic development, but has also directly benefited rural people. A number of criteria have been satisfied by an increasing number of communes, including transport (from 3.23% of the total number of communes in 2010 to 38.9% at present) and cultural infrastructure (from 2.3% to 34.9%). Many local governments have spent from 70-75% of the funding for new-style area building on infrastructure development, and most of people’s donations have also been invested in this field.
Vietnam has set a goal of having at least 50% of its total number of communes meet the criteria for being new-style rural areas by 2020, with each province or centrally run city expected to have at least one district recognised as a new-style rural district. Essential facilities, including transport, electricity, water, school and communal medical clinics, are also targeted for basic completion with the aim of meeting the demands of rural people’s production and daily lives.
Numerous difficulties and challenges to address
In a number of previous meetings of the NA, NA deputies pointed out the difficulties and obstacles faced in the process of building new-style rural areas. However, the issues raised during the working sessions had yet to be dealt with radically, so they continued from year to year and became more complicated to resolve. Notably among the nineteen criteria, the environment quality criterion has yet to become truly sustainable and has become a pressing issue in society, including in the locales (districts, communes) already recognised as new-style rural areas. Although the national set of criteria for new-style rural areas was promulgated in April 2009 and the Prime Minister issued a decision approving the programme for the construction of new-style rural areas in June 2010, the ministries and sectors’ issuance of the documents guiding the implementation of the programme has remained slow, with some directive documents still yet to be issued. On February 20, 2013, the PM issued Decision No. 342/QĐ-TTg on the adjustment of several of the national criteria. However, there remain some inappropriate points which have yet to be made appropriate to the private conditions and features of each region, causing difficulties during the implementation process.
NA deputies frankly looked into and specified many limitations in designing policies serving the construction of new-style rural areas by some central agencies. There were delays in the issuance of some kinds of policies, including the specialised policies for poor provinces and needy regions and the policies connecting the production, processing and consumption of agricultural products. Many irrelevant policies were not very efficient due to slow adjustment and supplementation, including the policies on encouraging businesses to invest in agriculture and rural areas and on providing support for communes in remote, isolated and extremely poor areas.
Determined to successfully build new-style rural areas
Recommending measures to remove difficulties and address limitations in building new-style rural areas, many deputies have expressed agreement with the PM’s decision to issue the national set of criteria for new-style rural areas for the 2016-2020 period. Based on the new set of criteria, NA deputies suggested each ministry and sector proactively review all policies and mechanisms to implement the programme in a more effective fashion, promulgate the documents guiding the execution of the criteria and study the development of higher-level criteria for the communes and districts already recognised as new-style rural areas.
Another issue of concern among legislators was the need to raise the responsibilities of Party organisations, authorities at all levels and the entire political system, particularly the role of the leaders, in building new-style rural areas. The construction of new-style rural areas must be integrated into the annual working programmes of central ministries and sectors, and it must become a political task for local governments and relevant bodies, they noted.
The NA deputies also suggested enhancing the quality of propaganda work and organising emulation movements on building new-style rural areas from the central to the local level, as well as regularly updating and disseminating information through the media about exemplary models and initiatives in building new-style rural areas. In order to ensure people really benefit from the campaign of construction, a number of deputies emphasised that ministries, sectors and local governments must really act for the people in line with the spirit identified by the government: building a people-serving and constructive government of integrity.