The fourth prolonged outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2021 exerted negative impacts on all aspects of life. The united and determined political system led Long An province to attain many achievements in socioeconomic development, and successfully realize the dual goal of economic development and pandemic prevention, thus passing another stepping stone on the journey to become a leading province in the Mekong Delta by 2025 and a relatively developed province in the Southern Key Economic Region in 2030. With respect to the province’s efforts and outcomes, we interviewed Chairman of Long An Provincial People's Committee Nguyen Van Ut. Cong Luan reports.
Overcoming all challenges, the social and economic picture of Long An province in 2021 was portrayed with many “bright colors”. Could you please tell us more about this success?
During the fourth COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, Long An was one of the epicenters in the country, with a lot of infections. The plague is complicated and prolonged, threatening people's health and life and directly affecting most socioeconomic fields. Thanks to the ongoing effort of the whole political system, the consensus of local people, the help of other provinces and cities, and especially the timely and drastic direction of the National Steering Committee on COVID-19 Prevention and Control, the pandemic has been basically controlled and business activity has been restored to produce remarkable and encouraging results.
In 2021, Long An province’s gross regional domestic product (GRDP) expanded 1.02%. Despite failing to meet its plan, the figure was relatively good in the context of the pandemic contagion. Its GRDP growth ranked fourth in the Mekong Delta, behind only Bac Lieu (5.05%), Hau Giang (3.08%) and Soc Trang (1.18%). Its GRDP per capita was estimated at VND80.08 million, 4% (VND3.08 million) higher than a year ago. The economic structure in 2021 continued to shift toward the desired pattern.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose by 1.2%. The export value reached US$6 billion, equal to 91% of the full-year plan and the import value was US$4.95 billion, or 115.1% of the plan. The total retail value of goods and services was forecast at VND88,440 billion, equal to 80.1% of the plan. The State budget revenue was VND18,693 billion, 23.2% higher than the target assigned by the central authority and 1.09% higher than a year ago.
Investment inflows kept rising. In 2021, the province licensed 47 new foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with US$3.5 billion, ranked 2nd in the country (after Hai Phong City that drew US$5.26 billion), and 120 direct domestic investment (DDI) projects with over VND12,000 billion. As many as 1,393 new companies registered for establishment with a total initial capital of VND27,866 billion in the year. They made new products, boosted local economic size, generated jobs for local people, and increased tax revenue for the province.
Long An is one of the localities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Would you share more experiences of your province in response to the pandemic, economic reopening and recovery?
Fighting the pandemic to protect human health and resolutely stop infections to quickly return to the new normal, right at the pandemic peak, the province adopted drastic, consistent and effective solutions. First, the province always made the most use of every moment of social distancing time to trace and test high-risk cases for quarantine and sweeping. The province strictly applied social distancing according to the Prime Minister’s Directive 16/CT-TTg to isolate infections, threats and households; stringently controlled mobility and prevented illegal immigration; quickly detected and timely handled quarantine violations right at the grassroots level; and engaged all localities and people to join the fight against the plague. At the same time, Long An accelerated vaccinations for its citizens to reach herd immunity, with first priority given to risky areas and privileged people like frontline forces, factory and office workers and the elderly. This was important to limit the pandemic spread, reduce fatalities and protect human health.
The important key to quickly restoring production and business of local enterprises is, even amid the complicated COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, the Long An Provincial Party Committee led and the Provincial People's Committee issued Plan 2759/KH-UBND dated August 24, 2021 on business recovery to assist local enterprises to adopt quick response to social distancing to continue manufacturing, and then Plan 2962/KH-UBND dated September 13, 2021 on business expansion. Until the pandemic was basically controlled, Long An Provincial People's Committee promulgated Plan 3222/KH-UBND dated October 4, 2021 on the business recovery of local enterprises in the pandemic context.
The province seriously applied social security policies to assist people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to carrying out business and worker support packages initiated by the Government of Vietnam according to Resolution 126/NQ-CP dated October 8, 2021 on amendments to Resolution 68/NQ-CP dated July 1, 2021 on worker and enterprise support in COVID-19 time; Decision 33/2021/QD-TTg dated November 6, 2021 on amendments to Decision 23/2021/QD-TTg dated July 7, 2021 on implementation employee and employer support policies in COVID-19 time as well as policies on tax reduction, loan repayment rescheduling and lending interest reduction, Long An province also cared for and supported needy workers; applied many policies and informed and persuaded workers to continue working in the province. At the same time, it focused on upholding the strength of great solidarity, unity and actions of the whole political system and fostering cooperation and companionship of people and the business community in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Carrying out these solutions in a synchronous, timely, serious, complete and effective manner and focusing on pandemic prevention and control measures as guided by the Central Committee and the National Steering Committee for COVID-19 Control and Prevention; speeding up vaccinations; supporting enterprises to restore manufacturing and business activity; applying policies in assistance of people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; promoting information and raising community awareness of disease prevention and control are key factors for Long An to contain the pandemic, ensure people's health, and restore social and economic development.
The 11th Party Congress of Long An Province (2020-2025 term) states that “Long An province needs breakthroughs for sustainable development”. By 2025, Long An will continue to hold its leadership in the Mekong Delta region and by 2030, it will become a relatively developed province in the Southern Key Economic Region". What tasks and solutions will the province take to achieve these goals?
2022 is the second year of implementing the 10-year socioeconomic development strategy in 2021-2030 and the 5-year socioeconomic development plan in 2021-2025. In order to achieve main goals and targets in 2022, from November 2021, the Provincial People’s Committee actively worked out an action program for socioeconomic development in 2022. We introduced 20 key social and economic indicators, 10 key solutions and 123 specific tasks assigned to departments, agencies and localities. Accordingly, Long An province will strive for a GRDP growth of 6.5-7.0%, a GRDP per capita of VND85-90 million, budget revenue growth of 12%, 15% reduction in poverty, 99.97% of households having access to electricity, and 58% of rural households having access to clean water.
The province will utilize positive aspects, urgently overcome weaknesses, solve difficulties against local enterprises and achieve the highest socioeconomic development goals. Long An will focus on key tasks: Effectively prevent and control the COVID-19 pandemic; urgently complete and submit Long An Master Plan for the 2021-2030 period, with a vision to 2050, to the Prime Minister for approval and implementation in the first quarter of 2022 to serve as a basis for the province to draw investment flows; improve growth quality and economic competitiveness; enhance the investment and business environment and sharpen corporate competitiveness; build synchronous infrastructure and urban areas; effectively mobilize and use investment resources for economic development; develop culture and society, realize progress in social justice, raise people's living standards, ensure a harmonious alignment of economic and social development; manage and use natural resources effectively and sustainably; protect the living environment; actively and effectively respond to climate change and natural disasters; and consolidate and strengthen national defense, security and diplomacy.
By Vietnam Business Forum