Vietnam's New Premier Urges Reform HANOI, Vietnam (AP) -- A day after taking office, Vietnam's new prime minister said his role is to push economic reform forward while abiding by the guiding hand of the Communist Party.
In a speech published Friday in state-controlled newspapers, Prime Minister Phan Van Khai said reform must come with stability and equity for all Vietnamese.
A technocrat and celebrated economic reformer, Khai, 63, takes the government's top job under the shadow of his dominant predecessor, Vo Van Kiet. Kiet, although retired from government, remains a powerful adviser on policy issues through his seat on the Communist Party Politburo.
In an interview with the Saigon Times Daily, Kiet issued a veiled warning to the Communist Party's conservative factions not to stand in the way of the new government's reform policy.
Reform "is a constant process,'' Kiet said. "Those who are content with the current reforms are making a serious mistake.''
Despite outward unity, the party faces deep divisions concerning the direction of reform and privatization.
Corruption, heavy reliance on state subsidies and preferential treatment for state-owned companies continue to plague the economy.
Although Vietnam has dramatically reduced the number of state-run companies to 6,000, the state sector continues to dominate industry and enjoys benefits denied to private firms.