Nation urged to rethink dependence on ODA funds

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Viet Nam News, 30 Mach 2011, page 3

Viet Nam' reliance on official development assistance to sustain its investment - based growth is increasingly challenged by the decline of ODA at a global level, a problem amplified by the global slow - down, said United Nations Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights Cephas Lumina on March 29th. Lumina said while the country had recorded impressive success in socio - economic development and become a lower middle - income nation, social problem, especially among the most vulnerable groups were still an issue. Lower middle - income status, however, would result in less ODA as donor countries would turn to more needy countries, said Lumina at the conclusion of his 9 - day research trip to Viet Nam on March 29th.

Lumina praised the Government for placing Vietnamese citizens at the centre of national development, and suggested that to fully ensure that principle, it was important that "national economic and social policies and programmes were firmly anchored in a human rights - based framework that underscored participation, transparency and accountabilities." He said the Vietnamese Government had made great efforts to have information on trade deficit and foreign debt available for citizens but the more important questions were ease of accessibility and quality of it. "To enhance transparence and accountability in the management and use of public resources, the Government should ensure the broad availability of accurate and timely information on debt and ODA," he said. "The Government can do a better job to make the information more accessible to people. It could make the information more simple and easy to understand as some technical figures can be difficult to understand." According to the independent expert, Vietnam' foreign debt in 2010 was about 42 percent of the GDP, an increase of 4 percent compared to the previous year. This figure remained within the safety line but it exhibited a tendency to continue increasing and would increase in 2011, he said. Lumina however also said that Vietnam had done well in maintaining education, social welfare and medical treatment for its population, but an increase in foreign debt would result in an increasing burden for the Government to pay the debt and interest and lead to a cut in social spending.