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Perseverance, Partnership, Progress

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Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam. — VNA/ Photo

by Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Resident Representative in Việt Nam

In April, as Việt Nam assumes the Presidency of the United Nations Security Council, a key priority on the agenda is addressing the consequences of mines and maintaining sustainable peace.

Despite significant progress, landmines, and unexploded ordnance (UXO) still endanger villagers in many provinces throughout Việt Nam with an estimated 20 per cent of land considered contaminated.

We would like to share our thoughts on overcoming this deadly legacy of war.  

On 4 April, the United Nations and its Member States marked International Mine Awareness Day, a day to remember the thousands of civilians around the globe, including many Vietnamese citizens, killed or injured by weapons indiscriminately left from wars and conflict.

The renowned actor Daniel Craig and UN Global Advocate for the Elimination of Mines and Explosive Hazards, reminded the world of the contamination remaining in Việt Nam.

This is also a day to remember the many brave men and women, working tirelessly throughout the country to rid the earth of this deadly legacy of war.

Last year, Mr. Cho Han-Deog, Country Director of the Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) in Việt Nam, and I called for a Decade of Mine Action and a shared ambition of working with the leadership of the Government of Việt Nam and partners, to eliminate the impact of unexploded ordnance and landmines on the population of Việt Nam, as well as putting a complete stop to civilian casualties from explosive remnants of war by 2030.

It is a call worth repeating on this special day of remembrance, and this year’s theme of Perseverance, Partnership, Progress resonates particularly well in Việt Nam.

Placing mine action at the forefront of Vietnamese chairmanship of the UN Security Council (UNSC) during this month is signal of global commitment, rooted in a conviction that the issue can be dealt with through strong regional and national institutions.

It is a message which will be highlighted during the upcoming Vietnamese-led UNSC Open Debate on 8 April titled “Mine action and sustaining peace: Stronger partnerships for better delivery.”

The mine action sector in Việt Nam is blessed with a strong and genuine partnership between government and development partners. This strong sector coordination and collaboration are a key driving force to reach the milestones required to make Việt Nam impact free by 2030.

To the extent possible, the international community should commit to making the support predictable and long-term to align resources with government plans.   

The important progress made over the past few years is a clear indicator that it is indeed feasible for the mine action sector to think big and make ambitious, yet realistic strategies and plans to reach the finish line.

Last year, we celebrated the issuance of Decree 18 on implementation and management of mine action and the related Circular 195.

This year, we can applaud the continued efforts to update the national regulatory framework through the development of regulations and procedures in line with International Mine Action Standards.

This is the kind of steady improvement of the sector makes it possible to set even more ambitious goals.

Almost three years ago, Việt Nam, the Republic of Korea, and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) established a strong triangular partnership with the Korea-Việt Nam Mine Action Project.

The combined resources and perseverance of the Việt Nam National Mine Action Center (VNMAC), KOICA Việt Nam and UNDP Việt Nam have resulted in remarkable achievements, from surveying more than 16,880 hectares of land and clearing 9,000 hectares of confirmed hazardous areas in Quảng Bình & Bình Định, to providing more land for development projects in these provinces.

At the same time, a database was created with 75,000 persons with disabilities, of which 9,100 were caused by unexploded ordnance or landmines.

In addition, nearly 87,720 local students, boys and girls, and 362,792 community members, women and men, were educated about how to remain safe in areas with potential UXO contamination.

This progress was made further possible through the continuous development of VNMAC’s capacity to fulfil its new mandate outlined in Decree 18 and Circular 195.  

Michelle Yeoh, accomplished actress and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador will join the UNSC Open Debate on Mine Action on 8 April.

As an action star she has worked to break stereotypes about what roles women can assume.

Likewise, there are mindset changes needed to create the space for women to fully participate in mine action. Last December, Việt Nam hosted an important conference on ‘Women, Peace and Security’.

Following the conference, the ‘Hà Nội Commitment to Action’ with 75 co-sponsors was formally submitted in February, to the President of the UN Security Council and the President of the General Assembly.

It highlights the importance of including women in building and sustaining peace, including in mine action.

Women play an important role in mine action in Việt Nam, leading as well as being members of clearance teams.

We continue to encourage all partners to join this call for a Decade of Mine Action to give back cleared land to local communities, leave no-one behind and ensure we persevere in fulfilling the development aspirations of those most in need.

As emphasised by the UN Secretary General: “The United Nations Charter calls us to complete the work: to survey, clear and destroy these deadly devices. Let’s make this the last decade when we need to devote ourselves to this task.” 

 
 

Source: https://vietnamnews.vn/politics-laws/920438/perseverance-partnership-progress.html

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Four questions sparked Quang Ninh’s awakening 10 years ago

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A decade ago, the northern province of Quang Ninh faced bottlenecks in infrastructure development. 

It took people nearly a day to go to Van Don from Hanoi. The time to travel from Hanoi to Ha Long City was five to six hours, Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary Nguyen Xuan Ky told VietNamNet.

Bốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trước

Van Don today is much different from itself 10 years ago.

Nearly 10 years ago, former Vice Chairman of Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Committee Nguyen Van Thanh and Mr. Nguyen Duc Long, chairman of the Quang Ninh Provincial People’s Council, took on an important task: inviting an American billionaire to visit Van Don in order to call for investment in turning this island district into a tourist destination with a casino.

After great efforts to contact him, the American billionaire flew to Vietnam on a special flight. As the road to Van Don was inconvenient, the time to travel from Hanoi to the site was nearly a day. Quang Ninh’s officials borrowed the aircraft of the boss of the Hoa Phat Group to take the American businessman to Van Don.

The reception was carefully prepared by Quang Ninh authorities. When stepping down from the plane, the American billionaire shook hands with Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary Mr. Pham Minh Chinh (the current Prime Minister) and said: “I know you are a very active leader, but I would like to ask a few questions.”

“He asked four questions,” said Nguyen Van Thanh, former vice chairman of Quang Ninh.

The first question was about infrastructure from Hanoi to Van Don, and from other countries to Van Don because at that time no such facilities existed. The second question was about national planning for Van Don. The third question was about a related law because “projects worth tens of billions of US dollars cannot be implemented under decrees”. The final question was about the person authorized to act on behalf of the Prime Minister to make decisions on related issues to investment and investors.

Bốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trước

Former Vice Chairman of Quang Ninh Province Nguyen Van Thanh. Photo: Pham Cong

Those questions awakened Quang Ninh’s leaders, although at that time they could not give sufficient answers to the potential investor from the US. Many years later, Quang Ninh authorities strived to seek the answers.

“This story shows that if we want to attract investment, everything comes from what investors need and how we can satisfy them, Mr. Thanh said.

At that time, Mr. Pham Minh Chinh and the local Party Committee outlined strategic breakthroughs for Quang Ninh’s development. That was changing the growth model from “brown” (coal mining) to “green” (tourism and service development), improving infrastructure, reforming administration, improving human resources, and attracting investment resources.

Planning

The questions of the US billionaire revealed the state of infrastructure in Quang Ninh 10 years ago.

Infrastructure at that time was reviewed by Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary Nguyen Xuan Ky with numbers.

Bốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trước

Quang Ninh’s Party chief Nguyen Xuan Ky: Good planning will create good projects. The planning itself is a resource, not common documents. Photo: Pham Cong

“After 2010, Quang Ninh faced a bottleneck in infrastructure. Those who wanted to go to Van Don could just stand from afar. It took three hours from Dong Trieu to Ha Long and fivr to six hours from Hanoi to Ha Long. It would be almost a day for traveling from Dong Trieu town to Mong Cai border gate,” Mr. Nguyen Xuan Ky said.

According to Mr. Ky, this was the first challenge that former Party Secretary Pham Minh Chinh and Quang Ninh’s leaders had to overcome.

Improving infrastructure was one of the breakthroughs for Quang Ninh to accelerate its development. But investment in infrastructure was huge. In 2010, Quang Ninh’s budget revenue was only VND21.9 trillion, 70 percent of which was from import and export, which was contributed to the state budget. The remaining several trillions of VND was not enough to do anything great.

The province, thus, needed to attract investment from outside. To attract investors, investment planning was a must. Under the direction of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh, in 2012, Quang Ninh started developing plans with the assistance of many leading consultants such as Mckinsey, BCG (USA), Nikken Sekkei Civil Engineering- NSC, NIPPON KOEI. (Japan).

In 2014, Quang Ninh completed seven strategic plans which were the foundation for the province to implement targets on socio-economic development, promote its potential and strengths and attract investment resources, including private investment.

Bốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trước

Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary Pham Minh Chinh at the ceremony to announce the province’s strategic planning in September 2014. Photo: quangninh.gov.vn

“They (international consultants) said money would come from this plan,” Mr. Thanh recalled. Quang Ninh was also the first province in Vietnam to ask for the Government’s permission to hire foreign consultants to undergo planning.

Public-private partnership was also an idea originating from international consultants. Quang Ninh asked for and got the Government’s approval for pilot implementation of this form of investment.

With the motto “public investment leads private investment”, the selected forms were: public leadership – private management, public investment – private management, private investment – public use. On December 5, 2013, the provincial Party Committee issued resolution 10-NQ/TU instructing Party Committees at all levels to pilot the public – private investment forms.

Explaining the reason for the issuance of this resolution, Mr. Ky said that the biggest goal at that time was to change perception, because everything must come from the change of thinking. To take the lead, it must start from the leaders of Party Committees.

Ha Long – Hai Phong Expressway, Ha Long – Van Don Expressway, Bach Dang Bridge, Van Don International Airport, Hon Gai International Cruise Wharf, and Van Don – Mong Cai Expressway were built in such circumstances. So far, the total investment capital raised from others sources, not the state budget, has reached hundreds of trillion dong.

It is estimated that for every VND1 of the state budget invested in technical infrastructure projects, the province attracted VND8-9 from off-budget investment capital. The budget capital was only invested in public works that served cultural purposes, social security, and health care purposes such as hospitals, museums.

“Only in Quang Ninh did private investors build infrastructure works like airports, ports and highways. Because they believed in our commitments, they believed that in the long term they will get a profit from their investment, although it was not easy,” Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary said.

If they invested in real estate, they would collect money very quickly, while investing in airports and ports is risky, he added.

But many doubted Quang Ninh’s brave policies. Van Don international airport is an example. Although the date of the groundbreaking was set, the letters of invitation delivered, Quang Ninh had to abruptly cancel the ceremony when a senior official still wondered where to get the money to build it. It took a long time for the project to resume.

On the basis of the pilot schemes of Quang Ninh and a number of ministries and central agencies, the Government issued Decree No. 15/2015/ND-CP dated February 14, 2015 on the investment form of public-private partnerships. In 2020, the National Assembly enacted the Law on Investment in the form of public-private partnerships.

“The biggest difficulty on the first day was to change the perception of officials, to create consensus among the people, the momentum for the whole political system, to build investors’ trust”, Mr. Ky recalled. “Without trust, no one would spend money because there was no related law at that time.”

He said that several trillion dong of budget capital attracted capital, to build the Bach Dang bridge, highways, Van Don airport, and an international cruise port. These were owing to seven master plans made in 2012. Planning is a very important guide, which is both an indicator of trust and the local government’s strong commitment to investors. The planning itself is a resource, not a common document. Good planning can add value to a fallow area.

Bốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trướcBốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trướcBốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trướcBốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trướcBốn câu hỏi thức tỉnh Quảng Ninh 10 năm trước

Great infrastructure works built in the past decade in Quang Ninh.

“Good planning will create good projects. Having good projects will have good investors,” Quang Ninh’s Party Secretary said, repeating the familiar saying of Mr. Pham Minh Chinh when he was the province’s Party Chief.

Van Don today is different from 10 years ago: There are highways, bridges, an airport. For the entire province, for nearly 10 years, Quang Ninh has been a “star of reform” in Vietnam, the pioneer in piloting new policies, a locality with soaring positions in rankings and with great contributions to the state budget.

Nearly 10 years ago, the American billionaire asked four questions and left. That was a problem, a challenge that leaders of Quang Ninh had to try to solve. The most meaningful answer was that the American billionaire’s corporation planned to return to invest in Quang Ninh. Ten years ago, Quang Ninh’s officials had to go everywhere to call for investment, but now it has become an attractive destination and can confidently screen investors according to its strategy.

On its 10-year journey, with hurdles and breakthroughs to create pillars for development, Quang Ninh has become a development pole under the criterion of “convergence – spreading”.

Quang Ninh’s former Party Secretary Pham Minh Chinh set a target that by 2020, Quang Ninh would become one of the poles of economic growth in North Vietnam. The current Party Secretary Nguyen Xuan Ky confidently emphasized that the target has been achieved. The achievements are a resource and a valuable driving force for Quang Ninh to continue its journey of exploration and innovation to continue its goals.

Luong Bang

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/feature/four-questions-sparked-quang-ninh-s-awakening-10-years-ago-727648.html

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Leaders of 13th Party Central Committee’s Commissions

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Following the 13th National Party Congress, leaders of 13th Party Central Committee’s Commissions have been consolidated.

Leaders of 13th Party Central Committee’s Commissions hinh anh 1

VNA

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/leaders-of-13th-party-central-committee-s-commissions-727688.html

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Vietnam, Brunei agree on maintaining joint committee on cooperation

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Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son held a phone talk with Brunei Second Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof on April 13, 

during which both agreed to regularly and effectively maintain the nations’ mechanism of joint committee on bilateral cooperation.

Vietnam, Brunei agree on maintaining joint committee on cooperation hinh anh 1

Vietnamese Foreign Minister Bui Thanh Son (Photo: VNA)

At their phone call, the Brunei minister congratulated Son on his appointment as Foreign Minister, praised Vietnam’s attainments in pandemic prevention and socio-economic development as well as outstanding achievements in external relations, including its 2020 ASEAN chairmanship and the position as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020 – 2021.

Minister Son, meanwhile, spoke highly of the two nations lifting of their ties to comprehensive partnership on the occasion of the Sultan of Brunei’s visit to Vietnam in 2019 and expressed his delight at the sound development of the two countries’ cooperation, particularly in trade last year despite COVID-19.

Both ministers agreed to soon build an action plan to implement the comprehensive partnership for the next five years and regularly and effectively maintain the nations’ mechanism of joint committee on bilateral cooperation while studying to establish a political consultation mechanism and signing a memorandum of understanding on cooperation between the two foreign ministries as soon as possible.

They also concurred on boosting the two nations’ cooperation in trade and investment.

Son took the occasion to thank Brunei and other ASEAN member states for supporting Vietnam in holding its role as ASEAN Chair in 2020 and as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council for 2020 – 2021.

Vietnam actively backs Brunei’s ASEAN chairmanship this year, he affirmed.

Son invited Dato Erywan Pehin Yusof to visit Vietnam at a convenient time, and the Brunei minister accepted the invitation with pleasure./.VNA

Source: https://vietnamnet.vn/en/politics/vietnam-brunei-agree-on-maintaining-joint-committee-on-cooperation-727598.html

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