The rough road to socialism bypassing capitalism

Charles Brown CharlesB at
Mon Feb 5 07:54:05 MST 2001

February 2, 2001
Filed at 11:50 a.m. ET

By Reuters

HANOI (Reuters) - A draft of Vietnam's political program for the
coming decade released on Friday reaffirmed what many outsiders
see as incompatible goals of socialism and an internationally
competitive industrial economy.

The political report, to be debated at the ninth congress of the ruling
Communist Party tentatively scheduled for late March, contained no
surprises and gave no clue of what personnel changes will take place at
the key five-yearly meeting.

The text carried on the Web site of the official Vietnam News Agency
conceded that Hanoi's aim of building socialism by bypassing capitalist
development was ``an extremely difficult and complicated task.''

But it stated: ``The Communist Party and people of Vietnam are
determined to advance toward socialism...''

''The Party and government consistently advocate pursuing a long-term
policy of developing a multi-sectoral market economy under State
management in the direction of socialism, or in short, a socialist-
orientated market economy.''

It said the aim in the coming decade was to lay foundations for a
''basically industrial modernized Vietnam by 2020.''

The report reiterated goals of a doubling GDP by 2010 and reducing the
agricultural work force to about 50 percent, from a current total of
more than 75 percent.


The report repeated annual growth targets for the decade of at least
seven percent and added: ``The industrialization process in Vietnam
should and can take a shorter time than other countries by flexibly
combining normal steps and leaps.''

The party would aim to ``strengthen the state role in economic
management'' but at the same time create ``a self-governing economy,''
it said.

It would also ``give priority to developing the production force, while
building production relations along the socialist line.''

A major World Bank report in November assessing Vietnam's draft 10-year
socio-economic plan described its economic targets as ``ambitious but
attainable,'' but only if the government fully embraced wide-ranging
structural reforms.

Many independent economists have serious doubts about the viability of
the Party's goal of a socialist-orientated market economy in an increasingly
competitive regional environment.

The report, while giving no indication as to what personnel changes
might be approved at the congress -- and significant changes are expected --
did not spare the most powerful Party leadership bodies from criticism.

''The degeneration of political ideology, morality and lifestyle,
corruption and red tape in not small numbers of cadres and Party members
is very serious,'' it said.

''Many Party cells and Party organizations, including the Central
Committee and the Politburo, have not focused enough on management...
(and) policies and measures lack unity.''

Questions have arisen about the future of key figures in the aged ruling
hierarchy since a meeting of the powerful 170-member Party Central
Committee last month agreed that in general no Party members older than
65 years should be re-elected.

While this excepted ``key posts,'' the head of the Committee's
ideological department, Huu Tho, said that in his opinion, people over
70 should not take such positions.

This has fuelled rumors that Party General-Secretary Le Kha Phieu, 69,
might step down. About half of the 19 members of the elite party
Politburo Phieu heads are over 65.

Copyright 2001 Reuters Ltd

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