Investing in ethnic minority and mountainous areas for sustainable development

Friday, 2020-01-31 18:19:38
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Minister - Chairman of Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs, Do Van Chien. (Photo: NDO/Tra My)
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NDO – Minister - Chairman of Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs (CEMA), Do Van Chien, has granted Nhan Dan Newspaper an exclusive interview, in which he shared about the innovations in ethnic affairs policy set in the Master Plan for Socio-Economic Development in the Ethnic Minority and Mountainous Areas (EMMAs) during 2021-2030, as well as CEMA’s implementation plan.

The Master Plan was approved by the National Assembly (NA) in November 2019, not only marking an especially important historical milestones for EMMAs, but also showing displaying an interest of the Party and State for the areas. 2020 is considered a premise for a new stage in socio-economic development for such areas.

Q: In recent years, the economy of EMMAs has been steadily growing, helping gradually improve the material and spiritual life for the people, while ensuring local social security. Can you please give an overview on the achieved results, as well as the difficulties and challenges in the areas?

A: In recent years, localities in EMMAs have achieved high economic growth rates, with an annual average increase of 8.4% for the Northwest provinces, 8.1% for the Central Highlands provinces, and 7.3% for Southwestern localities. The economic structure has initially shifted towards increasing the proportion of industry and services, while gradually forming agricultural and forestry and commodities production areas, such as coffee, tea, rubber, pepper, medicinal plants, timber trees and non-timber products.

Infrastructure in the areas is gradually improving, helping promote socio-economic development in each region, with 98.4% of communes in the areas having motorways access to their centres, more than 98% of ethnic minority households having access to the national electricity grid, 100% of communes having kindergartens and primary and secondary schools meeting the learning needs of ethnic minority children, 99.3% of communes have health stations, more than 90% of communes are covered with modern radio, television and communication systems, and 100% of communes having fixed and mobile phones, with telecommunications and internet services. The rate of poor households in districts and communes with exceptional difficulties has been reduced by 3-4% each year, even by more than 5% in some areas. Provinces with large numbers of ethnic minorities have more than 90% of the population get support in purchasing health insurance.

However, EMMAs still face a range of difficulties, with a shortage of jobs, low incomes, abnormal natural disasters and epidemics, dealing with the negative impacts of climate change, a high rate of children dropping out of school, and some backward customs and practices that have not been pushed back yet. Demand for infrastructure is large but resources for implementing policies have not met the actual needs, leading to a lack of capital allocated for implementation of some policies being issued before. With the promulgation and implementation of major decisions on ethnic affairs policy, including the Master Plan for Socio-Economic Development in the EMMAs during 2021-2030, in the coming time, the above-mentioned difficulties and obstacles, especially the subjective ones, would fundamentally be solved.

Q: The overall scheme is expected to contribute to strengthen the trust among ethnic minorities on their self-reliance and self-development to overcome difficulties and wipe out poverty. Can you talk about the scheme’s general goal and its basic and comprehensive innovation regarding ethnic affairs policy?

A: On November 18, 2019, at the 8th session of the 14th NA, the NA adopted Resolution No. 88/2019/QH14 approving the overall scheme for the EMMAs during 2021-2030. Ethnic minorities who are the beneficiaries under the master plan will be supported with the most necessary conditions to make that belief come true, that is getting support for essential infrastructure investment serving production and daily life; be supported to solve urgent needs of houses, residential land, production land and water for daily-life; getting support in education and healthcare; support with vocational training suitable to the needs and conditions of ethnic minority people; and getting support to preserve and develop the traditional cultural identities and values of ethnic groups.

The fundamental and comprehensive innovation of the project is reflected in the following main contents: reviewing, amending, supplementing and perfecting the system of policies and laws related to EMMAs; promoting all resources and exploiting potentials and advantages to develop EMMAs, while preserving and promoting the positive cultural identities of ethnic groups, focusing on effectively solving their pressing issues; State resources are an important and decisive factor in the project; strengthening international cooperation and diversifying and social resources for socio-economic development in EMMAs; investing in socio-economic development in EMMAs is an investment in sustainable development for the country; socio-economic development in EMMAs associated with building a strong political system at grassroots levels; integrating a uniform, unified policy, while streamlining management units, with clear assigned tasks; promoting the role and function of ethnic affairs units, and ensuring and improving the efficiency of investment resources. The basic innovation in ethnic affairs policy in the project is reflected by the determination of socio-economic development goals in EMMAs. The system of objectives and targets related to socio-economic development by 2025, with orientation to 2030, has been determined to ensure the feasibility and suitability for the practical situation of EMMAs.

Q: A review has showed that there are 118 policies for EMMAs, but they have yet to be gathered and are scattered in many sectors, ministries and programmes. Therefore, the scheme has integrated an all in compassing national target programme, aimed at investing in sustainable development for ethnic minorities. So, can you share more about this?

A: The project was approved to deal with the scattered and fragmented limitations in the implementation of policies for EMMAs, in the direction of integrating policies, identifying priority areas for focused investment, while focusing on the core and basic contents to promote socio-economic development in EMMAs. It is an important innovation in ethnic affairs policy and is carried out through eight key tasks and solutions. Among them is reviewing, amending, supplementing and integrating the system of ethnic policies into a national target programme on socio-economic development of EMMAs for implementation in the 2021-2030 period, which consists of 10 major projects. By doing this, it is certain that the limitations in implementing policies for EMMAs will be substantially overcome in the upcoming period.

Q: 2020 is considered a premise for a new stage in socio-economic development in EMMAs. What are the plans and programmes that the CEMA has developed and how will they be implemented to make the above-mentioned targets come to life soon?

A: The CEMA has completed a draft Government Resolution to implement the NA’s Resolution No. 88/2019/QH14. Accordingly, the Government will carry out synchronous tasks and basic solutions to achieve the objectives of the overall scheme on socio-economic development for EMMAs during 2021-2030, which has been approved by the NA. The agency will fully specify the guidelines and policies of the Party and the State on ethnic affairs policy according to the Politburo’s Conclusion No. 65-KL/TW dated October 30, 2019 on the continued implementation of Resolution No. 24-NQ/TW by the 9th Central Party Committee on ethnic affairs in the new era. It also targets to ensure the consistency of the Government in directing the implementation of tasks and solutions under Resolution No. 88/2019/QH14.

The CEMA has clearly defined the tasks for the relevant sectors, while assigning responsibilities of heads of ministries, central agencies and localities in implementing the assigned tasks. Currently, a draft Resolution of the Government to implement Resolution No. 88/2019/QH14 is being consulted with related ministries and agencies to synthesise and report to the Government on time as prescribed. With the spirit of seriousness and urgency, we hope that not only Resolution No. 88/2019/QH14 will be quickly implemented but also the Master Plan will soon come into effect.

Q: On the occasion of the Lunar New Year, do you have any message for the contingent of officials in ethnic affairs and ethnic minorities?

A: Ethnic minority affairs currently have a range of advantages but also face multiple difficulties. It requires those working in the ethnic minority affairs to strengthen efforts, overcome all obstacles and strive to successfully achieve the goal of sustainable development for EMMAs, so that no one is left behind. I believe that the contingent of cadres, civil servants and officials in the system of ethnic minority affairs agencies from central to local levels will unite and be creative in overcoming difficulties and continue to well fulfil the advising work and effectively implementing the effective ethnic policies, making attempts to bring the policies of the Party, NA and Government on ethnic affairs enacted in 2019 will soon come to life.

At the same time, I want people of all ethnic groups to overcome all difficulties and promote internal resources, with the support from the State striving to promote economic development, hunger eradication and poverty reduction, as well as getting rich. We are determined to strive to successfully implement Resolution of the 12th National Party Congress: "creating remarkable changes in economic, cultural and social development in areas with large ethnic minorities ...". In celebrating the Party birthday and the New Lunar Year of the Rat, I wish people of all ethnic groups across the country good health, joyfulness and happiness.

Thank you very much!