Speeches & Transcripts

Vietnam Development Partnership Forum 2015 Closing Remarks by World Bank Country Director

December 5, 2015

Victoria Kwakwa, World Bank Country Director for Vietnam Vietnam Development Partnership Forum 2015 Hanoi, Vietnam


I would like to thank you, Mister Prime Minister, for participating today and for reorganising your schedule to be with us. I would also like to thank you for your very active participation during the Forum and the information you shared with us about Vietnam’s further development objectives. Listening to you, it is clear that Vietnam’s strategic development orientations and the ideas and recommendations from development partners here present are fully aligned. Going forward, I believe the major challenge for Vietnam will be the implementation of these strategic orientations--and this is where we, as development partners, stand ready to support you.
I will try to quickly go over some of the issues that were discussed this morning. 

First, Vietnam has clearly has done well. Over the last five years, the country has achieved a lot. Nevertheless, challenges remain, and this was recognised by the Prime Minister himself. In the next five years, Vietnam will have important and significant opportunities, represented by the new development framework that the SDGs represent, as well as by the country’s own ambitious and increasingly deepening integration efforts. In the coming years, it will be important how Vietnam positions itself to take full advantage of these opportunities.

Many of the messages we have heard this morning relate to the need to strengthen reform efforts, as most of the benefits that Vietnam will see over the next years will be determined by your ambitions—and success--in implementing these reforms. Several of the reforms that are supported in trade agreements already signed and under implementation are your own reforms. They are reforms that you have committed to, be it SOE reform, procurement reform, et cetera. These are changes you have committed to and expressed you want to implement. The various integration agreements give you the opportunity to really step up implementation and to implement credibly and speedily so that you can take full advantage of these opportunities.

We have also talked about competitiveness this morning. Increased competitiveness will require, among other things, strengthened transparency and accountability, further efforts to curb corruption, and public administration reforms. All these areas are part of your efforts to establish modern market institutions--a core pillar of your 10-year plan.

Issues around citizens' participation--engaging with citizens, relying on them, letting them input into policies, allowing citizens to lay a role in monitoring and including them in policy implementation--is also a theme that has come out strongly this morning.

Then there is the broader inclusion agenda, the unfinished poverty agenda, particularly relating to ethnic minorities, the increasing vulnerability of a growing number of people who live close to the poverty-line. These are all issues that you have confirmed are key in your people-centred development approach which you will continue in 2016.

We also talked about how you mobilise resources to finance your development. We have discussed about making more effective use of what you have, greater efforts to mobilize resources domestically, and you have very eloquently expressed, Mister Prime Minister, that all of this will, to some extent, depend on how successful you are in implementing the before mentioned market institutions reforms. Such reforms will include administrative reforms around tax collection and payment. All of this work will count in your own domestic resource mobilization effort.

As your support from development partners in the future will become less concessional, it will be important to carefully consider funding to the social sectors, including for education, health, and social protection. What is the framework for engagement in these sectors and how can we help establish a process or an approach that will ensure these sectors are not left behind? Some suggestions have been made today in this regard.

Issues linked to the environmental footprint of your growth, the mitigation agenda related climate change have also been discussed, and you have confirmed your commitments as well as your desire to do even more.

I think all development partners stand behind you to help you achieve more, as you put the policies and institutions and mechanisms in place for this support to be as effective as possible.

We have also talked about the continued need to build skills. Vietnamese students have talent, great talent. Having an education system that fully develops this talent also at the higher level, at the vocational and university level, will be important. Such a system will ensure talent that is exhibited when students are 15 years old is not lost by the time they complete higher education. Again, we stand ready to support.

I would also like to highlight a few very specific suggestions that have been made today:

(i) The law on associations—the importance of developing and putting in place a strong law on associations. This will help your own agenda;

(ii) Divesting fully out of more enterprises; you have announced ten. An additional ten--or maybe 20--would be highly welcome and would be a credible demonstration of your reform commitment in this area;

(iii) The suggestion of a central regulatory reform agency that will help coordinate the reform agenda, design and provide oversight in implementation—to ensure that efforts are coordinated and consistent at the central level as well as between the central and lower levels;

(iv) The suggestion to undertake a comprehensive review of all business conditions--to carefully examine the regulatory burden weighing on business actors and identify what can be done.

(v) Regarding financing, it was suggested the Government look carefully, over the next five years, at its borrowing objectives and determine how ODA fits and how ODA partners can best mobilise to provide full and adequate support;

(vi) We have also discussed the importance of continued macro-economic stability as Vietnam moves forward--recognising the risks that remain;

(vii) At the heart of all the conversations, and one of the fundamental issues that I take away from this Forum, is that you want to catch up on your productivity growth—in order to sustain rapid growth, perhaps get on a trajectory not unlike what Korea experienced, and achieve your own objectives.

We discussed a number of other issues—important issues—during this very rich exchange—I am not able to mention them all as part of these quick concluding words. 

Last, I would like to thank Ambassadors and development partners for the active participation during the Forum, for many of you who spoke and shared your views. I also thank you for being patient if you did not get called at the time that you wanted to speak. I would like to thank our Government counterparts for their participation and for their responses as well. Last, I would like to extend special thanks to Minister Vinh and his excellent team for doing the heavy lifting of organising this VDPF. It is a pleasure to work with you. Thank you, Mister Prime Minister, for your participation. Thank you.