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Vietnam overcomes itself in next 20 years

Vietnam overcomes itself in next 20 years

Friday, July 03, 2015, 16:01 GMT+7

Editor’s note: Benjamin Ngo, a Ho Chi Minh City resident, hopes that the next 20 years is a period of time long enough for Vietnam to completely resolve its economic, social and cultural problems, in his submission to the “Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” (“My Expectations for Vietnam in 20 Years”) writing contest.

It is not uncommon to see such news stories as “Vietnam’s stock market comparable to Singapore’s,” “Vietnam among world’s top five/ten happiest countries,” or “Vietnam is the new Asian dragon” nowadays.

I think we should have a more realistic view that the country still suffers from a series of unsolved issues, from the living standard of the public to the development strategy of the government.

Therefore, we should not be too optimistic about a sparkling, bright and marvelous picture of Vietnam in the next 20 years.

Instead, we should hope that the span of 20 years will provide enough time to resolve the country’s economic, social and cultural problems that remain unsolved year after year.

Expectation for a country worth living in

As a positive thinker, I of course expect that Vietnam will be a country worth living in by 2035, when its people have civilized behavior, social fairness is ensured, and government policies strengthen the country and enrich its citizens.

In 2035, the Vietnamese people will no longer have to worry about whether a crane will fall on their head, or if streets will flood during the rains, before leaving home.

The living standard will then be much improved compared to the previous two decades as the government enacts policies to fight pollution; provide green and clean food for the people; and ensure healthcare for residents in both rural and urban areas.

In 2035, Vietnamese fishermen will no longer have to worry about being banned from fishing in the East Vietnam Sea by a neighboring country, as disputes there will have been resolved long before then.

In 2035, new college graduates will no longer have to worry about unemployment, as the training quality of universities will be far better than 20 years earlier.

In this context, stories headlined “Vietnam will soon be comparable to this country and that country” will disappear from newspapers, as journalists and members of the public alike know that what matters is everyone contributes to help the country overcome itself, rather than deluding ourselves about a bright future, while we are lagging way behind other nations.

Urgent problems must be solved immediately

Obviously, we cannot just wait for those best-case scenarios mentioned above to appear from the sky without doing anything, or waiting for help from outside. I think the government should issue policies to resolve the urgent problems of the country right now. These issues are the sovereignty over the East Vietnam Sea, the public spending burden, government overspending, corruption and inflation.

By enacting policies to solve these problems, Vietnam will, step by step, show the world that it follows the mutual values of humankind as in developed countries, rather than struggling to find its own way as we currently do.

For the burden of public debts, which each Vietnamese citizen is now ‘shouldering,’ to ease instead of growing even bigger in the future, the government should strengthen the legal and constitutional frameworks in the regard of public debts and state budget.

What’s important is the government prepares borrowing plans based on evaluations of risks and costs of each loan through medium-term public debt strategies.

The next step is to fortify the restructuring of state-owned enterprises and commercial banks to reduce the bad debt provisions.

On the other hand, state companies with poor performance must be strictly handled, and new legal frameworks must be created to facilitate the development of private businesses.

In terms of social development, the government should improve policies to ensure social security and welfare, increasing the living standards of its citizens. The Ministry of Health needs to increase the quality of healthcare, fortify preventive healthcare, and work out solutions for the hospital overload issue. The government should also have strict supervisory measures to guarantee that the plan for universal health insurance will be implemented by 2020.

In regard to the environment, the government should prioritize environmentally-friendly projects and those with clean, green energy and consumption. Vietnam should also step up international cooperation to boost its environment and natural resource protection and to be able to deal with climate change.

As for education, the Ministry of Education and Training must iron out the unsolved problems of the sector and focus on giving students a chance for comprehensive development, rather than being haunted by exams as they are now.

In tourism, instead of seeking a tourism ambassador or launching boring, ineffective promotional programs at travel fairs as they currently do, the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism must run its media campaigns on a large scale and emphasize factors that make Vietnam different from other regional countries, as well as create the best conditions for filmmakers from Hollywood to shoot in Vietnam.

As for media, Vietnam’s tourism should tell global tourists the country does not only have Son Doong Cave but also a number of attractions from north to south, a lot of well-preserved traditional customs and healthy food.

On the other hand, Vietnam should adopt other solutions in infrastructure development, such as building more shops and entertainment destinations for tourists countrywide and training the tourism workforce to be more professional.

“Ky Vong Viet Nam 20 Nam Toi” is a competition organized by the World Bank in Vietnam and Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that encourages local youths to write down their wildest, yet feasible, dreams about how Vietnam will change in 20 years’ time.



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