Ethnic Minorities' Lives Improved

In the past five years, the economy of the Central Highlands provinces has developed rather firmly at a rapid growth rate, and their economic mechanism has properly transformed, improving the living standard of local ethnic minorities, reported Planning and Investment Minister Vo Hong Phuc at the conference on the 2006 - 2010 socio-economic development plan for the Central Highlands.

The conference was held in Ho Chi Minh City on July 16 with the attendance of Politburo member and Minister of Public Security Le Hong Anh, together with representatives of ministries and departments of the central government and the authorities of the Central Highlands provinces.

Sustainable and rapid economic development 

PM Nguyen Tan Dzung talks with ethnic minority deputies at the conference.

If the GDP of the Central Highlands was 10.57% in 2001, it was 12% in 2005. Though GDP per capita was only 51.8% in 2005 compared with the whole country, it increased by over 1.65 times (VND5.22 million per capita per year).
Under a strong policy of economic transformation from agriculture and forestry to industry, construction and services, the production value of the Central Highlands provinces amounted nearly VND37,000 billion in 2005, noticeably contributing to creating social values and aiming to boost the development of economic sectors and other localities in the region.
Regarding social investment, there was also a great development. The total capital invested in the Central Highlands had reached over VND40,000 billion by 2005, up 18.17% in five years, half of which came from the State budget. 
The strong investment in the Central Highlands has created active impacts on the rather full change of the whole region in transportation, irrigation, health and education, creating favorable conditions for ethnic minority people to enjoy physical and spiritual values achieved from investment and development.
Regarding land for production and housing, running water for the Central Highlands people according to Decision 134 enacted by the Vietnamese Prime Minister, after over-one-year implementation, as many as 53,000 households have been granted land for production and housing (meeting 68.1% of demand), 26,600 households have been supplied with accommodation (55% of demand).
The policy is said to be timely and efficient. Although the policy has been carried out for just over one year, it has created good impacts and greatly changed the lives and activities of the Central Highlands people, making an important contribution to reducing poor households from 20.37% in 2001 to 8.77% in 2005. 
Further investment for the development of the Central Highlands

In term of plans, policies and solutions for the socio-economic development of the Central Highlands in 2006-2010, representatives of the central ministries have concentrated on solutions to developing the Central Highlands rapidly and stably in years to come. 
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), the Central Highlands have a great potential of forest and agricultural land. However, they have not been exploited efficiently; there are still wild land in some areas. 

President of Viet Nam Fatherland Front Committee Pham The Duyet congratulates the people of Chu Se District, Gia Lai Province on their new houses.

The State has invested thousands of billions of VND to construct water reservoir systems and irrigation canals. However, the total irrigated land area is only about 30%.
For irrigation development in 2006-2010, MARD plans to invest totally VND8,238 billion in the Central Highlands with 580 water reservoir and irrigation system projects in the provinces of Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong.
As for solutions in the policy of forestry development, PM Nguyen Tan Dzung was not pleased with the number of 54,434 hectares of forest land handed over to 6,714 households, according to MARD. PM Dzung said that the figure is too low to create more jobs for the Central Highlands people and improve their living standards. 
The PM ordered that wider and more drastic implementation wiil be done in all localities after the accomplishment of the pilot application of handing over forest land and forest protection to ethnic households, individuals and communities under Decision 304.
At least 5,000 ethnic minority households will receive forest land and the task of forest protection in 2006 at the best attempt. 
Concerning solutions to the industrial development of the Central Highlands, the PM required the Ministry of Industry and localities to have a detailed industrial investment plan, which must be appropriate with agriculture, forestry and human training. 
The PM said the industry and construction sectors will have to reach over 30% in the coming years and not just 16% -22% as now. 
Only the industrial development in the Central Highlands can enhance the production value of agriculture, forestry and services. It is also a good way to create jobs for the ethnic minorities.
The PM concluded that ministries and departments in the Central Highlands must concentrate on seeking investment solutions to the Central Highlands’ further sustainable and rapid development in the coming years, and see this as a strategy in investment and development to improve the lives of ethnic minorities and maintain political security while keeping to make the most of the potentials and strengths of the Central Highlands for regional and national development. 

By Pham Hoai Nam – Translated by Yen Chuong

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