Donors at the annual Consultative Group meeting said their top priorities were to help Vietnam with macroeconomic stabilization and sustainable development.

But several criticized Vietnam's lack of progress on fighting corruption and backsliding towards state domination of the economy.

The largest donor, the World Bank, pledged almost 2.6 billion dollars. Japan promised 1.76 billion dollars, while the Asian Development Bank pledged 1.5 billion dollars.

All three are major supporters of infrastructure projects and climate change mitigation.

Total ODA pledged by European Union (EU) countries came to 880 million dollars, down from 1.04 billion dollars last year. The top EU donor was France, followed by Germany. The US pledged 146 million dollars.

The main topics at the meeting were stabilizing Vietnam's macroeconomy, which has seen inflation rise into double digits this year, and the country's transition to middle-income status over the next few years.

A number of donors focused on the lack of transparent government and on problems with Vietnam's huge state-owned sector. Many were troubled by the problems of the state-owned Vietnam Shipbuilding Group (Vinashin).

In a joint statement, the donors called for 'higher transparency and modern governance' of the state-owned sector in order to 'avoid problems Vinashin has experienced recently in the future.'

The amount of aid disbursed in a given year is lower than the amount pledged, which often covers multi-year programmes. Vietnam planned to disburse 3.5 billion dollars out of 8 billion dollars pledged last year.

A number of countries have announced they will phase out ODA to Vietnam in 2012, as the country reaches the category of middle-income.

Deutsche Presse Agentur - December 8, 2010