Vietnam must make better use of foreign aid: conference

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Vietnam should use foreign aid more effectively given the declining funds coming in from non-government organizations (NGOs) since to the country's economic status was upgraded to "low-middle income," officials at a Hanoi conference said on November 28.

Vietnam's current per capita income rose to US$1,569 last year, well above the World Bank's threshold of $1,175 for the lower-middle group.

News website Saigon Times quoted Don Tuan Phong, vice chairman of the socio-political organization VUFO, a wing of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, as saying the official development assistance inflows are down and some donors have switched from non-refundable to refundable aid.

He said tardy implementation of revised and additional legal frameworks, along with local governments' poor cooperation with NGOs, have hindered the country's use of foreign aid.

At the conference, Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh stressed the "meaningful" role international aid plays in Vietnam's development plans and called for continuing help from NGOs.

The percentage of impoverished households was estimated at 9.6 last year, down from nearly 14 percent in 2008, he said, adding that the group's income almost doubled over the past five years.

Minh, who is also Minister of Foreign Affairs, said the country would attempt to facilitate NGO operations in the country and urged relevant agencies to streamline and simplify administrative procedures.

According to the Vietnam Committee for Foreign NGO Affairs, around 950 NGOs are currently working on 28,000 projects in the country, with nearly $2.4 billion of total aid disbursed.

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