Updated on : Thứ Năm, 21/05/2020 - 9:10 SA
PM Phuc's remarks at his conference with businesses
VGP - The following is full remarks of Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc at his video conference with businesses that took place in Ha Noi on May 9.

Distinguished delegates, representatives from the economic sectors,

Dear compatriots, dear comrades,

On behalf of the leaders of the Government, I would like to bid you welcome to the present, very important, Conference.

We are well aware, that Viet Nam lived in heroic days, these moments many decades before. The Vietnamese people then breathed the joyous air of momentous, historic events of the nation – the 30 April victory and the Dien Bien Phu victory renowned across the five continents, shaking the world. And we have just seen the May Day celebration of workers worldwide. And today is a momentous day too: the Ninth of May, the celebration of the victory of the Soviet Red Army over Nazi Germany.

Following the victory of Dien Bien Phu in 1954, President Ho Chi Minh visited and spoke to the staff and workers of the Yen Phu Power Plant and Bo Ho Lamp Factory. He said, “We are determined, we shall certainly restore the economy, certainly raise the entire people's living standard.” His exhortation is an invaluable treasure and a call to action: it inspired the people of the North to restore and innovate production capacity, to play its fine role as the home base for the grand front in the South.

It was also in May 19, one hundred and thirty years ago, that the country of Viet Nam gave birth to Ho Chi Minh, and it was him that gave glory to our Vietnamese nation. With this in mind, if the year 2020 is one of many important events for our country, May would be one of the most beautiful, most significant months in the year for Viet Nam.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We are at a new turning point in history, caused by the pandemic known as COVID-19. Rarely has there been a health crisis that affected nearly every country and territory as the COVID-19 pandemic. It dwarfed the 2002 SARS and the 2009 H1N1 influenza epidemics, and may be well in the league of such pandemics in the history of man as the bubonic plague – the Black Death, smallpox, typhoid, the Spanish flu, or the measles pandemic

At the medical level: the COVID-19 pandemic affected billions in the planet. It has, as of this speaking, infected nearly four million people in nearly 210 countries and territories, and killed almost 300,000.

Economically, the health crisis has affected all aspects of the economy, from the supply-side to the demand-side, from the financial market to the real economy, from production to consumption, from industries to services, from aviation to tourism, from domestic to foreign trade, from oil to automobile, from developing to developed countries. Large or small, no economy is immune from its impact.

Yet, as has been the case with countless turning-point crises throughout history, mankind eventually shall triumph despite loss and suffering – many may even not make it. So who shall survive? In biology, the father of the theory of evolution Charles Darwin posited: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive but the one most responsive to change”. In society, it can be said that those businesses, those collectives and those proprietors joining us today are those enterprises who are most competitive and most responsive to changes. We are happy for this, at the same time we find it regrettable that there have been many firms under great hardship and had to disband or file for bankruptcy over the last few months.

In Ho Chi Minh City, only three percent of the businesses have left the market. The remaining 97% are waiting for demand to resume to continue their operation. The city's GDP in the first quarter grew by 1.03%, not 0.42% as previously announced. Ha Noi's GDP growth was 3,5%, and the figure in Hai Phong was 14.09%.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The impact of the pandemic is truly immense. Oxfam reports that “The economic crisis that is rapidly unfolding is deeper than the 2008 global financial crisis”. The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) April World Economic Outlook projects global growth to fall by negative three percent, marking the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression of the 1930s (notably, in 2009, the global economic crisis only resulted in a global negative growth of 1.68%). Meanwhile: The US economy is experiencing negative 5.9% growth, the Eurozone negative 7.5%. The Chinese economy shrank for the first time over nearly three decades: their year-on growth for the first quarter was negative 6.8%. The ASEAN-5 economies are also expected to experience negative growth of 0.6% this year.

As for Viet Nam, the World Bank in late March expected that the Vietnamese economy will grow by 4.9% this year. Our growth over the first quarter was 3.82%, lowest in of all first-quarter figures in ten years. This is still a remarkable rate given the current situation all over the world. The World Bank's assessment shows that Viet Nam has managed to sustain a sound foundation, one of the best in ASEAN and Asia. Among the ASEAN-5 countries, Viet Nam has the best prospect for growth.

In the face of these challenges, Viet Nam has been pursuing a “dual target” - to combat the pandemic on the one hand, and sustain minimum economic activity alongside institutional and structural reforms on the other. This is so that the fire of growth would continue to glow, and shall burn bright once more as soon as the pandemic is under control.

Medically speaking: The Vietnamese model in fighting the pandemic has been well-regarded by many countries and the WHO. Today is the 23rd consecutive day without new cases in Viet Nam – save for those entering Viet Nam – who have since been under quarantine. There have likewise been no fatality. How is it that we have been so successful? This is first of all thanks to the existing immune system of the Vietnamese people – which is to say the spirit of unity, and our people's discipline and willingness to abide. Herein lies a truth: that if each would sacrifice a small part of their own benefit, then everyone shall benefit. Secondly, the Party, the State have put in place a correct, decisive, timely and cohesive line of action. Let us not grow complacent, but take heart also: COVID-19 is under good control.

Economically speaking: Though social distancing is in effect and demand has been disrupted due to the closure of the market in many countries, the Vietnamese economy has been able to sustain growth higher than the developed countries average – during times of smooth sailing. While many developed countries are faced with enormous financial burdens, Viet Nam has been able to accumulate a resource base thanks to the recent years of good growth. This shows that Viet Nam is not overly reliant on the international markets – as many have posited. It also proves that the internal strength of the Vietnamese economy and the Vietnamese business community is very great.

Allow me to give an example: We have all seen that in the face of the the hardship there are many businesses who have remained sustainable, even enjoying considerable growth. The stock market is on the whole trending down, yet quite a few stocks are growing, or sustaining, in their value. Why is this so? It is because these companies work in core sectors, aim for real values that benefit the human being, and put the human being at their heart, rather than pursuing false values. Such businesses shall never fail.

Ladies and gentlemen,

To help mitigate the impact of the pandemic on the economy and the everyday life of the people, the Politburo, the Secretariat, the Government and I have been making various directives and assistance policies to alleviate the hardship of the businesses and people in this stretch of adversity.

Recently the General Secretary and President Nguyen Phu Trong set the task: “We are to fight the pandemic, but most importantly, production must grow and the people's livelihood must be ensured”. I myself once said: that when the social distancing measures are relaxed, after the pandemic is over, when the beat of our society returns to what it used to be, our economy – like a wound-up spring – shall readily open forth.

It is in this spirit that I have directed the entire system to put together greater effort to restart the economy, aiming for the GDP growth target of over five percent this year and inflation target of below four percent. To do so, five spearheads are necessary: (1) drawing investment from the domestic economic elements, primarily private investment, (2) attract FDI, (3) strengthen export, (4) promote public investment, and (5) encourage domestic consumption.

To set concrete terms for this tactic, the present Conference is held – different in context, in condition and in what it requires compared to other conferences between the businesses and the Prime Minister before.

This is what I desire: that today's Conference be a font of patriotism, which means action, which in turn means being decisive and strongly determined in the new context. A wound-up spring, ready to open forth for growth. Our Viet Nam, and the businesses in Viet Nam, shall work towards a V-shaped trend of growth. Not U-shaped, and certainly not W-shaped.

We recognize that many bottlenecks remain in our country. The Party, National Assembly, Government and I myself as the Prime Minister have been ever concerned about this. The presence conference, however, is not a time to complain and bemoan the hardships faced by the business community. Rather, it is a time to raise the issues of what are the main hindrances that your sectors are facing, and what are the ideas and solutions for your sector, and the entire nation, to move forward. The Government shall find ways to foster productivity growth among the business community, because that is the only way to bring about sustainable profit.

To this end, the central-level agencies, the localities and the business community must devote time to raise recommendations and proposals to the government. Businesses ought to be more proactive in their participation in law-making and enforcement, grounded in fairness, equality, transparency, competitiveness and efficiency.

This is my expectation: that this shall be a meaningful Conference. It shall be the distillation of the spirit of patriotism of each citizen and each business in the course of national development. It shall be an expression of the determination to restructure and rise above the extant shortcomings to accelerate growth to meet our targets. This is an opportunity not just for the cultivation of solidarity and trust, but also for nurturing our mettle, our intellect, our love for the country and for labor. Labor is glorious, labor is how you honor yourself, that you can work, can contribute to society, to your homeland, to your country. The business community – this includes the banking system – should share in, and work together and resolve to contribute to the development of our country, to the development of the businesses themselves, and to the creation of jobs for our workers.

This spirit must be widely spread, and take root within the state organs, the businesses and the workers alike. This Conference should arrive at concrete deliverables, without bandying empty words. We must show our spirit of addressing bottlenecks for the businesses so as to accelerate growth. With this in mind, beyond the vigorous and active efforts of the businesses and the people themselves, the responsibility of the State apparatus, the levels of governments and the sectors are crucial.

For the public services: The ministries and public services must roll up their sleeves and the localities directly join in the effort to assist the businesses. A spirit of reform, reinvigoration and promotion of growth against adversity must be tempered. There must be a spirit of daring to think, to act, to take responsibility, to seek new solutions and foster development; a spirit grounded in the strength of one hundred million citizens. We must take note in our work: now is not the time for “authority yours, authority mine”. Now is the time to act in the interest of our country, our nation, our one hundred million compatriots. Now is the time to be mindful to successfully work in concert.

This is what I call for: that the interventions made today by the Ministries and services be clear,  quality and focused. It is especially vital to clarify what sort of different and novel aid, policy and solution are available to the businesses rather than retreading old ground. It is also especially important to maintain good governance of our public servants, and to fight against the lack of empathy, fight against corruption and bureaucratic harassment, which are causing hindrance to the people and the businesses. This is why alongside greater discipline in governing our public servants it is necessary to accelerate the application of information technology in state administration and the provision of public services online to cut down on direct contact between officials and the people and businesses in the performance of their work.

For this reason this Conference ought to arrive at new solutions and ideas: on the market, on connecting the value chains, on how to create the figurative glue to mend fractures, on labor, on taxes, on fees... particularly land-related procedures.

We have got a “Sharing” package of VND 62 trillion, to say nothing about the VND 12 trillion package of electric price relief, VND 15 trillion of internet and telecommunication fee relief, VND 10 trillion of water price relief. This is now time to talk “acceleration” and “springboard” .

We have witnessed the spirit of “fighting the epidemic as though an enemy”. Now is the time for “fighting inertia as though an epidemic”. I have spoken on multiple occasions of the “inertia virus”. Where is it, then? Do not look to other folks, other organizations, other offices, other ministries, other localities. The inertia virus lies within ourselves, our own organizations, our own localities, our own businesses.

For the businesses, as the Prime Minister, I would like to give four requests to the Vietnamese business community:

1- To love the Motherland: Because whatever you do, without thinking of your Motherland, you would not be a “big” business. [To love the Motherland also means to uphold the law, and to share. On this occasion, let me express my gratitude to the businesses who have walked alongside and shared the burden of the Government. There have been so many touching examples of philanthropy and altruism: large businesses giving much, smaller firms giving what they can, and many a household proprietor willing to share their food and their clothes in the midst of the pandemic].

2- To stand in solidarity: Because to break solidarity is to weaken yourself. We must work together and share in the common effort.

3- Not to lose heart: Because losing heart is to surrender yourself [There are challenges and adversities to every business environment. Never expect a bed of rose: because then it would not have been up to us].

4- To take action and be decisive: Because to be passive and to hesitate is to give up your own opportunity.

5- To be creative: Because to lack creativity is to fall behind yourself.

6- To take heart: Because losing heart is to deny yourself.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Let me repeat: The drafting of the Ten-year Economic and Social Strategy for 2021-2030 to be submitted to the 13th Party Congress has a vision – that Viet Nam shall become a prosperous country by 2025, capable of standing on equal footing with the countries in the region and the world. The pandemic does nothing to change this goal, this vision of ours.

Let me ask you this: What is your 2045 vision, o businesses? Where shall you be in the year 2045?

The state economy, during this trying time of pandemic, has proven effective as a distributor, a provider of water, power, telecommunication, and rice. Today we have major corporations reaching out for global competition: Viettel, VNA, Thaco, Vingroup, FPT, TH TrueMilk and Vinamilk, to name a few.

However, Viet Nam has yet to boast any firm among the global Top 500. Shall we, by 2045 – in another twenty-five years, have companies of global proportion? I should believe twenty-five years is enough to raise business giants made in Viet Nam.

Recall that twenty five years ago, Facebook did not exist – not before 2004. Alibaba did not exist – note before 1999. Google did not exist – not before 1998. I hope that our Vietnamese businesses shall keep this possibility in mind. Nothing is impossible. Think big. Do big. Do not fear failure – as it is from failures that successes are born. Do dream. Do act. Do turn your dreams into reality.

Comrades, ladies and gentlemen,

After the social distancing, I reckon the leaders of our businesses have had enough time to rethink how their companies shall move forward. I daresay this is a huge opportunity for the Vietnamese business community. This opportunity is first of all for our domestic businesses, but if we cannot harness it and take the bull by the horn, the ball shall pass on to foreign firms. Let me cite two examples:

Over the first four months of 2020, total FDI commitment was $12.3 billion. This was a 15.5% year-on decrease. Yet surprisingly enough, the value of committed FDI grew back again in April, by 81% compared to March, or a 62% year-on increase. I applaud such foreign direct investments into Viet Nam.

In March alone more than $80 billion were withdrawn from emerging market bond and stock funds. On this bleak canvas, Viet Nam ranks 12th out of 66 emerging markets in terms of financial safety. This shows that the long-term growth potential of Viet Nam is enormous and resilient even in the most trying times as we have witnessed. The stock market yesterday is growing, experiencing gross foreign purchase, putting an end to the 36 consecutive net-selling sessions. The Economics considers Viet Nam one of the “safe” economies after the pandemic with regards to public debt, foreign debt, loans and foreign reserve. The World Bank sees that our macro-economy is stable, our government debts are low, our resilience is considerable – including a large foreign reserve and timely lowering of interest. This is the result of the economic growth and the sustained and reinforced major balances of the economy over the past few years in our country. We have signed dozens of free trade agreements, thus opening up an unprecedented space for smooth access to the international market.

It can be said that this shift in the value chain will see Viet Nam as the heart of the chessboard, that any grandmaster would seek to win over. You, dear Vietnamese businesses, are the white player and may make the first move. That is an opportunity to be swiftly grasped!

Ladies and gentlemen,

We once thought that the triumphs of economic and social development last year means there would be hardship to achieve the targets for 2020 and the 2016-2020 term in its entirety. However, it is an usual thing, that whichever too easily gained would be lacking in significance. We know today that success is measured not by those triumphs which we have gained, but those adversities which we have overcome.

It is in the moments of the greatest adversity and hardships that each of us should rise to the occasion in the spirit of the national spirit, solidarity - “Those of the same voice respond as one, those of the same character seek out one another”. This is how the fortitude, willpower and spirit of the Vietnamese is tempered.

As has been spoken before: challenges are not born to beat us, but for us to beat them. And as I have spoken before: May is one of the most beautiful months in the year – the month of Uncle Ho's birthday. Allow me, then, to quote his poem – An Advise to Myselfas an inspiration for us in times of hardship:

Were the harsh winter not to be

How shall then be, the brilliance of spring?

Comrades, ladies and gentlemen,

Millions are listening to our conference today. There is a tight agenda to follow. Please keep to the time so that as many may speak as they can – on the responsibility of their sector, their locality, their business towards the Motherland, and espouse their determination to reach out.

I wish you all health, may the conference be a great success. Thank you very much!

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