Recently, Deputy Prime Minister Lê Văn Thành signed a decision approving a master plan for the Mekong Delta region in the 2021-2030 period with a vision to 2050. Vietnam Economic Review/VnEconomy spoke with Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Trần Quốc Phương about the plan.
What is the aim of the master plan for the Mekong Delta region?
This is the first regional plan to be implemented in accordance with the Law on Planning, and will also be an important basis for localities in the Mekong Delta to develop synchronous and unified provincial planning.
The Mekong Delta is a region with a particularly important position, not only as the largest producer of rice, fruit, and seafood for Việt Nam, but also an important driving force, contributing to the development of the Mekong Delta area and the general economy of the country.
In recent years, with the close attention and direction of the Party and Government, the active participation of localities, and the support of development partners, the Mekong Delta has made quite some progress and achieved many achievements in many aspects in socio-economic development.
However, the Mekong Delta still has a per capita income lower than the national average. At the same time, this region is also facing many challenges due to the impact of climate change, development activities in the upper delta, the negative side from socio-economic development, exploitation and use of natural resources with high intensity and in an unsustainable manner. These are causing environmental pollution, serious ecological imbalance in the region.
Therefore, the masterplan is expected to contribute to solving these challenges in order to gradually bring the Mekong Delta to a development pace that is commensurate with its potential and existing advantages.
With such an expectation, what is the development perspective of the Mekong Delta as outlined in this master plan?
In order for development of the Mekong Delta to be commensurate with its potential and advantages, and for the region to not only develop quickly but also adapt to climate change in the spirit of Resolution 120 of the Government, the development perspective is: the people – the centre, water resources – the core. We will implement integrated management of water resources throughout the basin to ensure the maintenance of living resources for the environment and people, and base on such management to transform livelihood models in sub-regions towards proactively adapting to climate change.
Along with transforming the livelihood model, the region’s growth model will also be gradually transformed towards increasing efficiency and value, focusing on effectively promoting human, scientific and technological resources, innovation, urbanism, industrial development and digital transformation.
According to the plan, we will focus on transforming the development model from a scattered and small one to a centralised one; develop clusters of agricultural economic sectors associated with urbanised and industrialised areas to create breakthrough development.
In particular, we will work to strengthen links between localities in the Mekong Delta with Hồ Chí Minh City and the Southeast region, expand trade with countries in the ASEAN region, especially countries in the Mekong sub-region.
Another part is to focus on infrastructure development, which is important for the transformation of development models, especially focusing on transport infrastructure, energy, clean water supply, irrigation and social infrastructure.
The goal is that by 2030, the Mekong Delta will become a sustainable, dynamic and highly efficient agricultural economic centre of the country, region and the world on the basis of developing a system of focal centres in terms of agriculture, economic corridors, and dynamic cities that concentrate diverse services and industries with a synchronous infrastructure system that adapts to climate change.
Along with that, the plan also points out the need for the development of the marine economy; tourism economy; strengthening intra-regional, inter-regional, domestic and international connections.
Of course, we still attach importance to the development of science, technology and innovation; improving the quality of human resources; creating a sustainable living environment, good quality of life for the people associated with the conservation of natural resources and ecosystems; maintaining and embellishing the unique and diverse cultural identities of ethnic groups.
With so many goals set, what does the Mekong Delta do in future?
The approval of the new master plan is the beginning of the period of 2021-2030. Currently, the Ministry of Planning and Investment is preparing to widely announce it to agencies, organisations and people in the region.
Next, the ministry will develop an implementation plan with specific solutions on resources to put the plan into practice soon. At the same time, we will also organise training, guidance and investment promotion activities.
In order for the planning to be implemented and implemented effectively, it is not only the efforts of the Mekong Delta provinces but also the involvement of relevant ministries and sectors. What are your thoughts on this?
It is indeed very important. Any planning requires the involvement of all relevant ministries, branches and localities. The Ministry of Transport is working with the Ministry of Planning and Investment to submit to the Government the investment policy of the Châu Đốc – Cần Thơ – Sóc Trăng Highway; An Lãnh – Cao Hữu Highway.
In addition, resources for development investment for the whole country and the Mekong River Delta in particular are very limited, so the involvement of ministries and sectors, the active participation of provinces, of other ministries and sectors, of international organisations, development partners and especially the participation of private investors are also very important.
This is the first planning approved under the Law on Planning. What does this mean in completing the next master plans in accordance with the “spirit” of the Law on Planning?
The Mekong Delta region planning is the first regional plan to be approved under the 2017 Planning Law. Therefore, it will be a good experience to implement the planning of the remaining five regions and help the 13 localities in the Delta region in their own planning to ensure synchronisation and consistency with regional planning. VnExpress News
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