As seen in recent regular press conferences in the first eight months of 2013, the Vietnamese government has pointed out that the economy is showing positive signs. A fairly stable macro economy has been achieved, inflation is under control, bank interest rates have declined, credit growth has been on a good trend, challenges in production and trading sectors have been partly resolved, industrial outputs -- particularly in the processing and manufacturing industries -- have steadily improved, exports maintain a higher-than-expected growth pace, the trade deficit is low, social security and benefits have remained intact, and political and public security have been well managed.
No negative scenarios have arisen in Vietnam’s economy, despite the bad debt issue last year casting a dark shadow on the financial and banking sector. Brightening signals have reeled investors back to Vietnam. The Ministry of Planning and Investment disclosed that foreign direct investment licensed between Jan. 1 and Aug. 20, 2013 stood at 769 projects, and registered capital at $7.404 billion. The number of new businesses registered has rapidly increased, while the number of enterprises ceasing operation has seen a decline. Approximately 10,000 enterprises that temporarily stopped in 2012 have returned to normal activity.
The image of 10,000 revitalized enterprises and the miraculous rise of the economy have been evidence of the policies and challenge-tackling solutions toward production and trade of the government, directly steered by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung, are building confidence for investors and entrepreneurs.
Nguyen Tan Dung was criticized for a brief period as having a poorly performing government that led to numerous difficulties for this newly emerging economy. George Mason University professor Nguyen Manh Hung, an international politics and Vietnam researcher, has argued that Nguyen Tan Dung’s position has been consolidated since the seventh central committee plenum. Dung has demonstrated political l‘esprit fort in the face of the nation’s big issues.
In fact, Dung has shown to the people he is truly the sharpest premier in Asia as international and domestic media have commented. His outstanding work has been reflected in the way he operates the economy to the way he takes on the country’s challenges and how he faced the so-called “leader’s responsibility.”
When the economy slipped from being an Asian dragon to one overshadowed by bad debts and “cream scoop” thinking, when most global indexes downgraded the nation’s ranking, that’s when Dung returned with resolute policies. It was most painful for him to drop the growth target in exchange for inflation containment; equally hard was to admit and to remove the “state economy” tumor that was once a bright sign of socialism.
“I take responsibility of Vinashin,” a statement from the premier in front of the National Assembly read, showing the courage and responsibility of Vietnam’s youngest prime minister since 1975, a premier who started as a soldier and emerged from the heroic Vietnamese army.
Recently, in an unprecedented sign of confidence in Vietnam, the prime minister received 70 percent confidence from the public, which does not reflect the true reputation of this prime minister, as around him there are plenty of characters who received almost full confidence but who remained idle and made no major impact on the nation. They made no friction with anyone or kept harmony with others. Nevertheless, Dung was not disappointed with such realities; he was determined, and persistent on the path he chose.
Dung did not drop the tough policy of fiscal tightening that aims to stabilize the macro economy and contain inflation. Dung’s decisions were to continue to observe a foreign exchange ratio, and to operate a favorably declining interest rate that was in line with the inflation slowdown, despite outcries from interest groups in the finance and property sectors. And Dung has proven the correctness of this policy. Dung may lose the confidence of interest groups but he gained people’s popularity whilst the economy has shown positive signs and social security has much improved.
Dung not only has had excellent economic policies. International affairs have also brought him to new heights, especially after the Shangri-La dialogue where he appeared to be the most influential politician in Asia. He holds a persuasive voice on the East Sea issue with the quest for peace, stability, security and safety of maritime interests in this important sea lane of the region. He is determined in solving conflicts by adopting peaceful means and observing international laws. Also by skillful diplomacy and heartfelt nationalism, Dung has promoted the story of the East Sea to enhance national solidarity. The evidence has shown that Vietnam is achieving greater stability. Put another way, Dung has been excellent in making “inner warm, outer firm” in the context of Vietnam meeting the challenges of international and domestic affairs.
It should be admitted that Vietnam would find it very hard to find an alternative candidate stronger than Prime Minister Dung. Dung is truly the leader that Vietnam needs in its outward journey to the world.