Viet-Nam: The First Five Years: An International Symposium

By Richard W. Lindholm | Go to book overview

XV. Experiment in Planning Economic and Social Development, 1956-57

FRANK D. ROSEBERY107

TO ASSIST in planning a program for balanced economic development, the Vietnamese government in 1955 arranged for a United Nations Mission108 to undertake an over-all survey of Viet-Nam's economic prospects. It also placed the planning bureau, Direction Générale du Plan, in the office of the Presidency to emphasize the importance of planning. This bureau, guided and assisted by the findings of the United Nations Survey Mission, and in collaboration with Vietnamese ministeries and the United Nations advisers, prepared a First Draft Five Year Plan ( 1957-61) for Economic and Social Development, 109 which was submitted to the Presidency in June, 1957.

The Plan Document made an estimate of aggregate resources needed for economic growth during the five-year period. The national wealth of the country was estimated at 250 billion piasters--50,000 piasters per head of working population. This figure was derived by multiplying annual output in Viet-Nam, for which there is an estimate, by the ratio of national wealth to output in other underdeveloped areas. A requirement for new investment of 20 billion piasters was developed, based on maintaining capital stock per head and allowing for an increase in population and a decrease in unemployment. Replacement, estimated at 4 percent of annual output, implied an additional need of 16 billion piasters. Thus, gross investment needs were indicated at 36 billion piasters.

It was only in the final stages of the preparation of the Plan Document that this 36 billion piaster requirement was developed. For new investment, instead of 20 billion piasters, the Plan initially had figured 17.5 billion, and total expenditures of that amount are foreseen in the document. This requirement was based on the following rule-of-thumb approach: Other underdeveloped Asian countries have been requiring an annual net investment injection equal to about 10 percent of output in order to achieve a growth rate of 21/2 to 3 percent annually. A comparable investment injection in Viet-Nam would require increasing by some 3.5 billion piasters annually (or by 17.5 billion in all over five years) the recent level of gross investment, equal only to about 5 percent of output and presumptively allowing little net investment.

Ministries which assisted in the drawing up of the Plan received directives and verbal instructions for draft projects. The planning bureau

____________________
107
United Nations Economic Planning Consultant to the government of Free Viet-Nam, 1956-57.
108
The request was made to the UN in July, 1955, the survey undertaken in Nov.-Feb., 1955-56, and the report submitted in Oct., 1956.
109
Hereafter called the Plan or the Plan Document.

-193-

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