Vietnam vows economic overhaul

In its five-yearly convention, ruling communists admit serious instability in the economy as they map the way forward.

    Vietnam is one of Asia's fastest growing economies, but inflation rose to a 22-month high in December [EPA]

    Vietnam's ruling communist party met on Wednesday to choose its next key leaders and chart a way forward for the next few years as the country faces high inflation and economic uncertainty .

    The chosen leaders will "steer the course of Vietnam for the next five years," Al Jazeera's Steve Chao reported from the Hanoi, the country's capital.

    The 1400 delegates are also expected to focus discussions on the country's unstable economy during the eight-day meeting that is held every five years.

    "Specifically, everyone is looking at who the prime minister will be," said Chao.

    Inside sources said the current Prime Minister, Nguyen Tan Dung, will keep his post, despite the fact that he has been blamed for much of Vietnam's economic instability over the last few months.

    The country's last National Congress was held during the economic boom in 2006, when Vietnam was experiencing an annual growth of seven percent.

    But since 2009, Vietnam has had to devalue its currency, the dong, three times, while its neighbouring countries have strengthened their currencies.

    Double-digit inflation has also caused food prices to soar since the last meeting, and Vietnam's reputation for bureaucracy and corruption has not faded.

    'Lack of moral example'

    Truong Tan Sang, who is expected to become the new president, told delegates they must address the mismanagement and widespread corruption.

    Sang said some senior party members "lack example in morality and lifestyle, having allowed their wives, children or their staff to abuse power for personal profits."

    Leaders have pledged that they recognise challenges ahead, but many people are sceptical this congress will get anything done.

    "What is ultimately at stake here is whether Vietnam can achieve the long-term goals that it has set out," said Chao, including its aim to be an industrial and modern nation by 2020 with an economic development average of seven to eight percent.

    "But the economic challenges are massive," he added, with financial analysts based in Vietnam insisting that total reform is necessary in order for the country to move forward.

    Tight media control

    One of those reforms, reported Chao, is transferring Vietnam's economic support from conglomerates to foreign investments.

    The Vietnamese government does not tolerate any challenges to its one-party rule and has recently tightened its control of Internet websites, including Facebook.

    Vietnam's practise of silencing criticism has prompted several complaints from the US and other western countries, but relations between the former enemies have recently improved.

    The US is now one of Vietnam's biggest trading partners and the two countries have worked to strengthen military ties as neighbouring China becomes more assertive with its own military might. 

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and other agencies


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