Mr. Nguyen Tan Van Vice Minister of Construction
Head of Vietnam Delegation

At UN Special Session on Human Settlements (Habitat II)

New York
June 7, 2001

Dear Presidium,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

First of all, allow me as I am here in function of Head of Vietnam delegation that as a form of welcome I use this opportunity to wish all of you, the participants to this session good health and success, and I hope that this session will result in effective solutions to the sustainable development of human settlement for all nations, especially for poor countries.

Human settlement has been recognized as a demand fundamental to human beings. It's been the primary concern of all and every strata of life. Vietnam is a nation of narrow land, dense population, slow developed economy and hard climatic conditions. The Vietnamese people have, therefore, as a traditional habit carried out thrift to improve their own shelters, contributing to the increase of housing stock of their community.

Being conscious of the significant role of human settlement in the national socio-economic development, the Vietnamese Government has sought to address the housing development, especially in urban areas to partly answer the needs of dwellings in the period of urbanization in recent years.

To further the solutions forwarded by the UN Session on Human Settlement at Istanbul, Turkey-1996, Vietnam has made a considerable progress in the field. The Vietnamese Government has set out broad policies to eliminate housing subsidies system, shape the patterns of housing business toward a market-led business, mobilize the people's capable involments in housing, especially in urban areas.

The Vietnamese Government has made a challenging effort to reform the policies of housing investment, skilled labour promotion for housing industry, privatization of housing (i.e. entitling tenants to buy their house or flat from the state), prioritization of urban housing investment, land allocation, land lease for housing construction, home ownership, etc. All this brings about positive improvements in housing development in Vietnam.

During the past five years (1996-2000) nearly 30 million square metres of dwellings were built in which 75 % built by individuals (either new constructions or renovation). The average dwelling area per capita reached 7.Om2 in 1996, and 8.Om2 in 2000. The Government's effort itself has focused on providing shelters to the population of the areas suffering from natural calamities and flood, and on improving the living environment and housing construction along the canals through urban areas and next to industrial regions.

Better housing quality manifests itself by the measures of conveniences and safety. A great number of old houses has been renovated, new blocks built with well-developed infrastructures. There is a more inclusive picture of architecture that captures modem style, good architectural characters and good interior-exterior quality.

Blocks of flats are encouraged in big cities to increase the supply of housing to the median and low-income residents. Housing construction plan must be made in accordance with land-use plans and population growth.

Poor housing conditions in Vietnam, however, are a challenge of sustaining program: the lack of dwellings and poor quality housing for low income residents, urban and rural, especially in the areas suffering from frequent storms and flood.

There are around 10 million square metres of dwellings whose date of use has already expired. Problems remain in some areas where there are concentrations of dwellings requiring substantial repair. In some cases (about 2 million m2) clearance may still be the most satisfactory course of action.

The major proportion of houses built by individuals in the urban areas where infrastructures are inefficient has imposed an unmanageable burden of low hygienic conditions, polluted living environment and bad views.

So, in the urban areas of Vietnam, large-scale redevelopment to replace the existing housing conditions is a major feature for the years to come, under the responsibility of the Vietnamese Government and the local authorities.
Housing development is a strategy incorporated into such social development as poverty reduction, employment and social equality. Housing development would match the improvement of living environment, the unlocking of the opportunities for healthy competitive investment, the promotion of the idea of "kick-up", and the growth of national economy.

High-priority is given to low income and poor residents. This policy can be featured as follows

. An "enabling" policy and priority investment toward housing development will be worked out to attract the participation of all economic sectors to this field, including foreign investors.

. Limiting (or liquidating) the housing construction afforded by individuals; the focus should instead on winning well-planned housing projects.

. Included in the housing development, the State will put in place some investment that supports such social fundamental infrastructure building as kindergartens, schools, health-care centres, etc.

. The target of urban housing construction in five years to come will reach 60 million m2, that is the average areas per capita rise up to about 10m2.

Vietnam is a developing country whose economy has just turned from centrally planned economy into market-led economy. In recent years though due attention has been paid to housing development by the Government and the urban authorities the fiscal inefficiency remains serious. Vietnam is now realizing the social-economic development during the period of 2001-2010, starting with the five-year plan between 2001-2005. We are open to all relations with all countries and international organizations on the basis of equality in development and cooperation. As far as housing development is concerned the Vietnamese Government commits to create favourable conditions for foreign investments. We appreciate all the assistance from Governments, international organizations, NGOs and individuals to our social economic development in general and the housing development in particular in coming years.

Thank you for your attention.