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Ministers of Industry and Trade, Natural Resources and Environment questioned by NA

VGP - Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh was the first Cabinet member to go before the National Assembly on November 15 to answer questions about issues under his charge.

November 16, 2016 8:43 AM GMT+7

Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

Fielding the first question about loss-making projects using State capital and managed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the minister cited as example five prolonged projects which are the Thai Nguyen iron and steel plant, the Phuong Nam paper pulp mill, the Ninh Binh fertilizer factory, the bio-fuel plant at Dung Quat and the Dinh Vu fiber mill. He pointed out that those five projects all suffered from fluctuations in the world market, particularly the sharp drop in oil and crude oil prices from US$100-147 to US$40 per barrel.

Other reasons behind the inefficient operation of those projects are the limited capacity of investors, project management boards, negotiation teams and contractors.

He emphasized the goal of retaining State capital, asset and interests when dealing with those projects, adding that all solutions should be in accordance with market principles and international commitments.

“We can consider selling those projects and even declare bankruptcy if necessary,” the minister said, noting that his ministry has submitted to the Government recommended solutions and the Government will meet after the NA session to decide on specific measures.

The issue of fake, poor-quality fertilizer was raised by many deputies during the hearing. Minister Tran Tuan Anh said overlapping State management of the fertiliser market has hindered efforts to restore order. At present, the Ministry of Trade and Industry control the production and trade of inorganic fertilizers, while organic fertilizers are under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Another problem is the permission of too many types of fertilizer on the market, with more than 5,000 kinds of organic and 5,700 kinds of inorganic fertilizers.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development have held many working sessions to address those problems. Most recently, the two ministries have proposed that the Government assign one ministry to manage fertilizer products and market, and relevant ministries and agencies coordinate to reduce the number of types of fertilizers allowed in the market, Minister Tran Tuan Anh said, citing the example of Thailand which allows the production and sale of just more than 100 types of fertilizers.

The Ministry of Industry and Trade is working on a set of 16 standards for fertilizer, which may be transferred to the Ministry of Science and Technology for approval early next year, according to the minister.

Explaining the issue further, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong pointed to two other major problems, one of which is the orientation in the use of fertilizer. Viet Nam consumes 10-11 million tons of fertilizer each year, but up to 90% of which are chemical fertilizers.

The minister said this is a major factor affecting the quality of farm produce while causing pollution and soil degradation. “It is the responsibility of the agricultural sector to promote the use of organic fertilizer, thus gradually shifting to clean agricultural production, which is in line with the Party and State’s policy on restructuring agriculture,” he said.

The minister said there are 336 hydropower projects, with the Ministry of Industry and Trade being the main State management agency of them, while the Ministries of Construction, Natural Resources and Environment, and Agriculture and Rural Development also exercise management of those projects in several aspects.

In the time ahead, the Ministry of Industry and Trade will assess water discharge procedures at hydropower plants and review flood and storm response work in localities where there are such plants.

The ministry will assign clear responsibilities of all concerned parties, such as local authorities, dam owners, plant investors in the water discharge process, along with sanctions for any violations.

Photo: VGP/Nhat Bac

The same day, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Tran Hong Ha took the floor to field deputies’ questions.

Responding to queries about waste treatment at industrial and service facilities, craft villages and residential areas, Ha said the ministry is in charge of waste treatment infrastructure while the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development is directly responsible for waste treatment.

On possible solutions, he said the first task is classifying agriculture-reliant, suburban and urbanized rural areas so as to devise appropriate planning, policies and resources.

The ministries of Natural Resources and Environment, Construction, Agriculture and Rural Development need to issue criteria for new rural construction, including those regarding planning and rural infrastructure, and waste collection, he said.

In agriculture-reliant areas, every household should be guided on how to classify garbage and adopt biogas model in breeding.

In case of any environmental pollution incident, Ha said specific responsibilities should be assigned to central and local authorities, from the approval, design, survey of environmental impacts to supervising firms.

Asked about recovery efforts from the environment incident caused by Taiwan-invested Formosa steel company in the central province of Ha Tinh, Ha said the ministry has established a group of prestigious scientists to consider remedy plan and monitor the quality of waste and exhaust fume as well as discharges.

To deal with the pollution, a 10ha ecological reservoir equipped with advanced technology is planned to stand at the end of wastewater discharging pipelines, in which fish and mangrove ecosystem live together, to ensure that discharges are safe before being released.

The ministry has also designed marine environment monitor systems in the central provinces of Ha Tinh, Quang Binh, Quang Tri and Thua Thien-Hue.

In case Formosa is yet to sign contract with capable waste treatment companies, its wastes will be stored together with industrial and hazardous ones.

In coordination with Ha Tinh authorities, the ministry is accelerating the progress of building waste treatment facilities in registered firms.

Formosa was also asked to seek partners to turn pulverized fuel ash into construction materials, he said, adding that the company has invited the world’s well-known consulting firms to help with changing manufacturing and treatment technologies, so as to fully prevent possible risks of pollution.

Regarding the response to climate change, Ha said the ministry has devised a scenario for the Mekong Delta, recovered mangrove forests in the south central, and closed natural forests in the Central Highlands.

The government has also tasked the ministry with implementing a scheme on land subsidence in Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta, thereby mapping out an appropriate climate change scenario.

According to Ha, the environmental impact reports also offer forecast and fail to give an overview of general impacts on the environment. The ministry asked the government consider adjusting the Law on Environment Protection and relevant provisions in this regard.

As scheduled on November 16, Minister Ha will continue answering questions in the morning./VNA./.