The European Union yesterday praised Viet Nam's aid effectiveness, saying that future development assistance might well take different forms.
"Viet Nam's done exceptionally well in terms of its aid effectiveness, therefore it gets one of the biggest aid amounts in the world," said the head of the EU Delegation to Viet Nam Sean Doyle at the launch of the 13th annual bilateral development co-operation report (EU Blue Book) one week ahead of the Mid-year Consultative Group Meeting.
The country is set to share its experience and insights at the upcoming High Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Busan, South Korea in November.
Despite criticism regarding Viet Nam's slow disbursement of official development assistance (ODA) during this year (only US$400 million out of a committed $7.9 billion during the first four months of 2011), Doyle said that the country's performance "is still very good" seeing as large projects needed several years to bear fruit.
"In practice there will always be differences between commitments and payment," he said.
"Viet Nam is normally good at payments, a little bit slow, but not as slow as most of the countries we're working with. Some projects, such as those involving trade, are very good," he added.
Some delays could be explained by the Vietnamese Government's current efforts to reprioritise their own projects, which, according to Doyle, "is necessary from time to time".
The EU delegation head said that this was an important year for the bilateral co-operation.
"The year of 2011 is particularly important for co-operation between Viet Nam and EU member states since the Government plans to approve its 5-year Socio-economic Development Plan and Viet Nam has become a middle-income country," said Doyle.
Regarding co-operation planning, EU assistance will be especially focused on poverty reduction in Viet Nam.
"We support and we praise the great economic success of Viet Nam, but at the same time we very much want that this growth be shared between the rich and the poor," said Doyle.
The EU remained fully committed to international efforts to eradicate poverty through development assistance and increased aid effectiveness this year, he said.
"The EU expects that Viet Nam's ODA strategic framework will identify the strategic orientations and guidelines that ensure best value for money in terms of development assistance during the 2011-2015 period," he said.
The EU delegation head said that development assistance commitment was unlikely to be reduced in times to come due to the country's middle-income status and the EU member states' credit crunch, but that it might take on different forms.
It is a view shared by head of the Co-operation Section at the Belgian Embassy, Luc De Backer.
"Although there will be no change in aid flow, aid composition might alter. I think we have to see what the new needs of Viet Nam as a middle income country are in order to help it overcome new challenges," he said.
Head of the Development Section at the Irish Embassy in Viet Nam, Garvan McCann, added that Ireland wished to continue its partnership with Viet Nam in tackling poverty and supporting non-governmental organisations.
It also committed its assistance to the five-year socio-development plan.
"It's important that Viet Nam welcomes dynamic intellectual exchange," he said.
Doyle added that there would be "more partnerships" and "less traditional aid."
"I think we will be working in increased partnership because many problems, including migration and climate change, concern not only Viet Nam, but Europe as well," he said.
He said that there would probably be more loans and less grants to Viet Nam in times to come.
The EU committed nearly US$1 billion in 2011 development assistance for Viet Nam.
More than 40 per cent of the $972 million was made up by grants the Government would not have to pay back.
This year's indicative assistance is of around the same amount as last year.
The EU commitment makes up 11 per cent of donor commitment to Viet Nam this year, following the World Bank with 33 per cent, Japan with 22 per cent and the Asian Development Bank with 19 per cent.
Among EU member states, France committed the most with $221 million, followed by Germany ($199 million). — VNS