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Tuesday,  Jan 16, 2018,15:00 (GMT+7)
A year of pains and gains
Son Nguyen
Friday,  Dec 29, 2017,15:22 (GMT+7)
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A year of pains and gains

Son Nguyen

It is not a week without major happenings but the key topic mainstreamed in local media over the past few days is not a special event, but a review of pains and gains of the year. Numerous media organizations have recalled outstanding events or issues of the country in the past 12 months, and introduced their own selections of the ten most significant socio-economic developments.

Ratings for each major event of the year vary from one media outlet to the other, but several of the most bustling issues have been covered, and common grounds are seen among such media organizations in such a respect.

The robust economic growth this year takes center stage in all selections introduced so far. News website To Quoc under the Ministry of Information and Communications gives economic growth the first position in its selection of the top ten events. For the first time in ten years or so, says the news site, Vietnam has realized all 13 socio-economic goals set out early this year, including the tough targets such as inflation control, budget deficit, and public investment. 

Several other newspapers or news sites also place economic growth in the first position, including the Vietnam News Agency and news site Vietnamnet, the latter quoting Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc as saying that the country “has realized eight targets and exceeded five remaining targets.” According to Vietnamnet, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) this year hit 6.7% compared to last year’s 6.21%, and is the highest level since 2009.

Nguoi Dua Tin, though giving GDP growth the second position behind the successful organization of the APEC Week 2017, draws attention to the strong export growth with revenue of over US$200 billion and attraction of foreign investment topping US$33 billion.

Similarly, VOV.vn, the website of Voice of Vietnam radio station, notes that Vietnam’s foreign trade has shifted from deficit to surplus in two consecutive years, and the country’s exports no longer rely on shipments of natural resources and mining.

It should be noted that the Government at a meeting on Wednesday officially put this year’s GDP growth at 6.81%, higher than the much-touted 6.7% announced earlier.

Both VOV.vn and Nguoi Dua Tin highlight the successful organization of the APEC Week 2017 as the most important event of the year. The country, says VOV.vn, successfully organized 243 events related to APEC in ten cities and provinces across the country, including the APEC Week 2017 taking place in Danang City in November. Apart from trade and investment deals worth US$12 billion signed on the sidelines of the APEC Week, several state visits by foreign leaders were also conducted during the event, including those by China’s top leader Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump.

Also regarding the economic performance, several media outlets include the issuance of policies on the private sector in the top ten events of the year. Both the Politburo and the Government have issued resolutions on developing the private sector into an important driving force of the economy, according to Nguoi Dua Tin, which puts it at the seventh position. Both the Vietnam News Agency and To Quoc put the treatment toward the private sector at the fourth position, while VOV.vn gives it the second place.

The fight against corruption, which has been lifted to a new height this year, is probably an issue of utmost public interest, so understandably it also occupies a higher place among the top-ten events. All media outlets include this issue in their selections, with news site Vnexpress giving it the second position while the Vietnam News Agency puts it at the third place.

Dinh La Thang, after being relieved of his post as Politburo member for mismanagement, has been arrested for his irregularities while serving as chairman of Vietnam Oil and Gas Group (PVN). Dozens of senior officials have either been arrested or dismissed from high posts, including leaders of Danang, Vinh Phuc, Thanh Hoa, Quang Nam, Gia Lai, Dong Nai, Binh Dinh, and several ministries, says VOV.vn.

Also related to the fight against corruption, many current or former executives of big State conglomerates have also been held accountable for their irregularities, including leaders of PVN, Vietnam Rubber Corporation, and Vinachem among others.

A resolution issued by the National Assembly to give a special socio-economic mechanism for HCMC is another positive event cited in several selections. Nguoi Dua Tin and Vnexpress are among those media outlets highlighting this landmark, with the latter noting that the new mechanism is necessary for a megacity that accounts for 22% of the national GDP and contributes 28% of the national State budget, though its population makes up only 9% of the national number.

Some incidents that have adverse impacts on the economy are also listed by many newspapers and news sites.

Natural calamities are a major drawback for the country this year. Vnexpress says the south-central region, especially Khanh Hoa Province, suffered from the worst storm in the past 30 years, while Nguoi Dua Tin stresses the storm, named Damrey, killed 107 and claimed property damage of VND22 trillion, or nearly US$1 billion. From north to south, natural calamities this year have claimed over 380 lives, says VOV.vn.

Other major events of the year listed in top ten events by media houses include a surge of international arrivals to 13 million, decisions by central authorities to proceed with huge projects such as Long Thanh International Airport and the North-South Expressway, the boom of the local stock exchange to a ten-year high, the fast-tracked administrative reform, and the widespread public protests against the wrong locations of several tollgates of road projects developed under the build-operate-transfer format among others.

2017, as recounted by the local media, is a bustling year of pains and gains. As the year is drawing to a close in the next couple of days, the robust economic growth has stolen the limelight among all achievements of the year. Many pin high hopes that the strong growth momentum will continue into the New Year given the trend of acceleration recorded throughout 2017.

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