Vietnam plans to speed up pace of reform
From GREG TORODE in Hanoi
VIETNAM'S Prime Minister Vo Van Kiet wants to free 'cumbersome obstacles' blocking business in Vietnam, but emphasises he has not perceived 'disappointment' among the growing number of foreign investors.
Mr Kiet said yesterday that Vietnam was committed to moving ahead faster, despite each reform carrying a price that could not be avoided, and investors could expect more changes.
'I understand that there have been problems,' Mr Kiet said.
'I know that cumbersome procedures have caused some trouble, but I don't see any disappointment,' Mr Kiet said when asked about recent warnings of problems from Singapore's Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew.
'Foreign investment has been more hectic recently,' Mr Kiet said.
Mr Lee wrapped up his third trip to the country recently expressing disappointment in the pace of reform and sounded a clear warning that foreign aid and investment might go elsewhere unless Vietnam took greater steps to end corruption and free-up its bureaucracy.
Foreign investment - accelerating in recent months - has topped more than US$12.5 billion, across more than 1,000 projects.
However, Vietnam must dramatically step up the amount of foreign investment to reach key development goals, based on the creation of about 1.3 million jobs and the mobilisation of $50 billion in foreign and domestic investment in the next 15 years.
Mr Kiet said yesterday Vietnam would keep on the reform path under firm socialist leadership, with the economy its key plank.
He said widespread reforms now underway had brought major changes to the country and he was confident key goals could be reached.
He said he was 'convinced' the goal to double gross domestic product by the end of the decade could be reached, helping to end poverty and backwardness and leading Vietnam on a path to gradual modernisation.
He promised further reforms, government efforts to bring down inflation, to cleanse the country's vast state bureaucracy of corruption-causing red-tape, an improved legal system and more opportunities for foreign investment.
'One of the obstacles which is impeding our reform is corruption,' Mr Kiet said.
'Public administration reform is a key objective to ensure the rule of law and to help us punish severely . . . corrupt officials.' 'We have gradually realised some successes and Vietnam is out of the socio-economic crisis of the 1980s.'