Vietnam’s achievements over the past three decades have been remarkable, making the country one of the most successful stories in terms of poverty reduction in the world, said Eric Sidgwick, Asian Development Bank (ADB) Country Director for Vietnam .
In his recent interview granted to the Vietnam News Agency on achievements Vietnam has made during its 30-year Doi Moi (renewal) process, Eric Sidgwick said that from one of the poorest countries in the world, Vietnam has been transformed to a lower middle-income country with GDP per capita increasing six times over this period and the poverty rate falling from over 58 percent in 1993 to just about 3 percent today.
“Dramatic improvements in the country’s economy has contributed to a steady progress of social development, and allowed the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger much earlier than the global target,” he noted.
This impressive economic and social transformation came about from a policy shift from central planning to market mechanism, and ever increasing integration with the global and regional economies, he added.
Meanwhile, World Bank (WB) Country Director for Vietnam Victoria Kwakwa shared that after 30 years of reforms, Vietnam is a dynamic lower middle-income economy. It has maintained high growth and instituted good social policies resulting in major improvements in social welfare.
Using updated poverty standards, the poverty rate has fallen from more than 50 percent in the early 1990s to near single digits today. Extreme poverty, measured by 1.25 USD a day, has been nearly eliminated. Not only are income levels higher, but the Vietnamese population is better educated and has a higher life expectancy than most countries at a similar per capita income level.
According to her, access to basic infrastructure has also improved, with 96 percent of Vietnamese now having access to electricity, compared with less than 50 percent in 1993, and access to clean water and sanitation has increased from less than 50 percent of all households to over 75 percent.
“Vietnam’s inclusive development is widely recognised as a model for other developing countries and provides a firm foundation for the country to advance beyond middle-income status,” she noted.
Kwakwa attributed these successes to the choosing of a pragmatic approach, a focus on labour-intensive production and agriculture, an early and effective emphasis on building human capital, and consensus among strata of people.
Regarding long-term development solutions for Vietnam, the WB representative said that as a key Vietnamese aspiration is to have a modern, industrialised nation, in the long term, reforms in several key areas – including private sector development, urban development, innovation and education – need to take place to achieve that goal.-VNA