Clearing Bottlenecks for Stronger Investment Inflows

1:59:50 PM | 10/19/2022

Thua Thien Hue province is carrying out many solutions for stronger competitiveness and better business climate to draw investment flows. The province has focused on removing tailbacks in construction planning, site clearance and administrative procedures. Mr. Phan Quoc Son, Deputy Director of the Department of Planning and Investment, shares about this issue.

Could you please introduce the province’s investment promotion and attraction results in recent years?

Thua Thien Hue province has carried out consistent solutions to speed up administrative reform and improve the business investment environment. In 2021, the province obtained optimistic results: The Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) ranking first in the country; the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) at 8th place nationwide; the Information and Communication Technology Application Index (ICT-index) in 2nd position; and the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index) in 4th place. The province ranked 5th out of 15 major tourist provinces/cities of the country on Vietnam Tourism Competitiveness Index 2021. Thua Thien Hue Smart City Monitoring and Administration Center won Sao Khue Award (2nd year in a row) in "digital transformation platforms".

Business and investor support has been stepped up, especially removing "bottlenecks" to accelerate investment disbursement and attract more investment funds. Specifically, the Provincial People's Committee established four working groups led by Chairperson and Vice Chairpersons of the Provincial People's Committee to work with enterprises to solve difficulties and obstacles in project implementation. Specialists (from specialized agencies) are assigned to assist workgroups to actively support investors in completing relevant procedures, helping investors work with relevant administrative bodies to deal with their affairs, promptly update and report to leaders of workgroups to settle requested contents.

Many major investors have come to study and explore opportunities in the province, including Hoa Phat Group, Sovico, Alphanam, KMH, KRRI (South Korea) and Banpu (Thailand). The Provincial People’s Committee also successfully hosted the Conference on “Meeting Green Thua Thien Hue - Determining the Future of Green Economic Growth” where the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (AmCham) pledged to support the province in developing a green economy and green growth in energy, agriculture, tourism and environment.

In the nine months of 2022, the province licensed 24 new projects with VND12,189.4 billion (over US$500 million) of investment capital, including four FDI projects with US$257.17 million (VND5,286.71 billion). Economic and industrial zones licensed nine projects with VND2,970 billion. At the same time, the province allowed 16 projects to revise their investment value, with five projects adding VND521.5 billion. In addition, seven projects are seeking over VND3,523 billion from investors. As of September 21, 2022, Thua Thien Hue had 616 new companies with a total registered capital of VND5,449.1 billion, up 40.3% in corporate entity and 60.3% in value from a year-ago period.

The above results came from the focused and firm direction of the Provincial Party Committee, the Provincial People’s Council and the Provincial People’s Committee and at all levels and branches of government in improving the business investment environment. In general, achieved results remained modest relative to local advantages and potential because of difficulties in construction planning, legal regulations on investment, land and bidding.

Would you mind telling more about those “bottlenecks” and how the province is trying to clear them up?

Currently, attracting investment funds and speeding up project implementation is facing some “holdups” that the province is seeking to address.

First, Thua Thien Hue made a provincial construction plan (in 2012) and the province is formulating Thua Thien Hue urban master plan. However, there are still some shortcomings in urban planning and construction that are affecting the progress of many projects. For example, the change of objects of functional area construction planning: According to Clause 25, Article 3 of the Law on Construction 2014, some areas are defined functional areas but, according to Point a, Clause 1, Article 28 of the amended Planning Law 2018, they are not subject to planning, leading to insufficient administration bases and construction investment procedures. In addition, shortcomings still exist: Lack of regulations on total area project establishment; lack of regulations on digital transformation of construction planning; low funding for setting up rural construction planning. These make planning and planning management difficult.

Second, land compensation for site clearance is defined as a key and breakthrough action to create a "clean land fund" but there are still shortcomings. For example, policies on price, resettlement and compensation conditions are not suitable; current status records are insufficient; site clearance personnel are inadequate and weak; the involvement of Party committees and local authorities is not strong.

Third, a lot of administrative procedures, from planning to policy approval and investor selection, are overlapping and time-consuming. This affects opportunities of investors in the province.

Currently, the province is reviewing and consulting ministries and branches on some planning matters while clearing gridlocks of administrative procedures and site clearance. In particular, administrative procedures have been built from planning, investor selection to project operation to plan and assign tasks to each responsible agency and individual according to the given deadline. This thus helps improve the responsibility of agency leaders and strictly handles acts of delay that weaken investment attraction.

What are the province’s investment promotion goals and highlights in 2022?

Investment promotion and attraction is always a major concern of the province by launching 5-year and annual plans with the "keyword" of Resolution 54 that aims to make Thua Thien Hue province a centrally governed city. In particular, in 2022, the Provincial People's Committee issued an investment promotion program with the following highlights:

* For locations outside economic and industrial zones: Attracting urban development projects such as An Van Duong New Urban Area, new urban areas in Hue City and Huong Thuy Town, new urban areas and urban tourist attractions in Phong Dien district; coastal residential and tourism complexes in Hai Duong (Hue City), Vinh An, Vinh Xuan, Vinh Thanh and Phu Dien (Phu Vang district), and Quang Cong (Quang Dien district); developing cultural projects such as a multi-purpose cultural area in An Van Duong New Urban Area, Lim Bridge and Luong Quan and Don Sam alluvial grounds; facilitating information technology, Industry 4.0, high-tech agriculture and other projects. The province targets to license 20 projects with VND20,000 billion of investment capital in 2022.

* Economic and industrial zones: Increasing occupancy rate by attracting industrial glass, silicon panel, semiconductor chip, hydrogen and pharmaceutical manufacturing projects. The province will strive to have 5-8 new projects with VND4,000-5,000 billion Chan May - Lang Co Economic Zone and 10 - 15 projects with VND3,500-4,000 billion in industrial parks. At the same time, the province will entice infrastructure investors for Phu Da and Quang Vinh industrial parks. All industrial zones will have infrastructure investors and centralized wastewater treatment facilities.

How is the National Assembly's Resolution 38/2021/QH15 dated November 13, 2021 on piloting a number of specific development mechanisms and policies in Thua Thien Hue province opening up opportunities for investment attraction and business development?

The National Assembly's Resolution 38/2021/QH15 helps Thua Hue promote its internal resources, maximize development resources and invest in completing transport infrastructure, economic zones and industrial zones to create motivations to woo large investors for the province.

In order for the resolution to soon be put into practice, the Department of Planning and Investment advised the Provincial People's Committee to issue Plan 231/KH-UBND dated June 30, 2022 for implementation of Program 12-Ctr/TU dated May 13, 2022 of the Provincial Party Committee on implementation of Resolution 38/2021/QH15. The department also reviewed and proposed important infrastructure projects but it was yet to balance the medium-term public investment plan of the 2021 - 2025 period. It proposed issuing local bond issues and increasing budget revenue from imports and exports.

The department also worked with the Department of Industry and Trade and the Management Board of Economic and Industrial Zones to develop importer and exporter support policies and export support and attraction policies at Chan May - Lang Co Seaport. The agency also coordinated with the Department of Finance to advise the Provincial People's Committee to work with the Ministry of Finance to soon issue a decree establishing the Hue Heritage Conservation Fund.

The department also gave priority to major programs and projects like Hue City upgrading and development program aimed to build Thua Thien Hue province into a centrally governed city; population relocation and site clearance project in Hue Imperial City and Phu Bai International Airport expansion project. The agency focused on speeding up investment preparation and site clearance for Nguyen Hoang Road and bridge projects, and extended To Huu Road to Phu Bai Airport. Moreover, it also consulted on privately invested investment projects.

Last but not least, the Department of Planning and Investment directed, advised, urged, inspected and handled emerging issues to accelerate the progress of privately invested projects and speed up public investment disbursement; and resolutely handle, withdraw or take remedial measures for projects that are behind schedule.

Thank you very much!

Actively supporting enterprises to restore production and business
To implement Plan 93/KH-UBND dated March 10, 2022 of the Provincial People's Committee on supporting enterprises, cooperatives and business households to recover and develop production and business operations in 2022-2023, the Department of Planning and Investment has launched following solutions and tasks:
* Promptly and effectively carrying out central and provincial policies to remove difficulties for companies: Organizing business meetings and seminars in a bid to help local companies with effective access and use of investment capital and support them to stabilize immediate operations, boost operations and improve long-term competitiveness.
* Developing new policies to remove difficulties faced by companies: The department is advising on construction of a resolution to be promulgated by the Provincial People's Council regarding revised regulations on SME support policies in accordance with Decree 80 2021/ND-CP dated August 26, 2021 of the Government. The department is also urging and coordinating with other agencies to develop a policy on ticket exemption for visitors to Hue historical and cultural sites in 2022 and a 50% discount of ticket prices in 2023. It will support MICE tourism.
* Reforming administrative procedures: The department has carried out tasks of four interagency workgroups led by the Chairperson and Vice Chairpersons of the Provincial People's Committee. As a standing agency, the department assigned responsibility to specialists in charge of each workgroup to better support investors to complete their procedures; coordinated with other bodies to handle emerging issues; updated and reported to leaders of workgroups for timely settlement.

Tran Trang (Vietnam Business Forum)