Major Donors Meet with Minister Gia at Milestone UN Meeting

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Viet Nam's major donors held a special meeting with Minister Tran Xuan Gia of MPI at the Hanoi office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) today (27 May) to discuss some of the main concerns, priorities and challenges in improving the effectiveness of official development assistance (ODA) in Viet Nam.

The meeting was held under the auspices of the Donor Group Forum (DGF), which brings together senior Vietnamese officials and major donors on a monthly basis to facilitate development policy dialogue. Mr Edouard A. Wattez, UN Resident Coordinator, emphasised that the DGF is "aimed at developing common understandings on priority development issues, and exchanging ideas on how the donor community can best assist Viet Nam's successful and sustainable development".

Today's meeting marked the 50th such monthly meeting since the DGF was established by UNDP over four years ago, and is held at a time when many officials in both the Government and donor community are questioning the most effective role that ODA can play in Viet Nam's development.

Minister Gia expressed his appreciation for the collaboration between the Government and rapidly growing resident donor community since 1993, when UNDP assisted in organising the first International Donor Conference for Viet Nam. Mr Gia emphasised, however, that "while much had been achieved with the help of ODA since 1993, there was still much room for improving ODA effectiveness through greater information sharing between the Government and donors and streamlining their implementation procedures." The Minister also stressed that much greater efforts were needed to assist rural development and poverty reduction.

Mr Wattez strongly endorsed the Minister's view and added that "the Government's planned poverty reduction programme to assist the poorest 1,715 communes provided a major opportunity for both Government and donors to contribute to sustainable poverty reduction and human development, if effectively designed and implemented".

After the meeting Mr Andrew Steer, Director of the World Bank in Viet Nam, agreed that "a spirit of genuine partnership between the Government and resident donor community had developed in recent years. The time had now come," he added "to develop a shared vision and strategy for Viet Nam's development."

Mr Robert Glofcheski, UNDP's Senior Economist felt that there was "still far too much emphasis on quantities of ODA disbursed, and far too little emphasis on the quality of the related investments". Mr Glofcheski argued that one of the best measures of ODA effectiveness is its contribution to developing national capacities and "self-reliance" as measured by domestic savings in order to ensure sustainability of poverty reduction achievements".

Mr Wattez expressed his gratitude for the lead role played by MPI in coordinating ODA and in cultivating a spirit of collaboration among all development partners. Mr Wattez felt that it was especially appropriate that the 50th meeting of the Donor Group Forum was led by Minister Gia.

In addition to the chief representatives of the ADB, World Bank, IMF and the United Nations Agencies, Ambassadors and senior representatives from 16 key donor countries participated, including those from Australia, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK, Sweden and others.