Ben Tre Province: Building a Dynamic Economy

3:42:33 PM | 17/4/2009

To learn more about the socioeconomic development achievements of Ben Tre province in the past years as well as development orientations to attract investment capital and to support local business operations, a Vietnam Business Forum reporter talked with Mr Nguyen Thai Xay, Chairman of the Ben Tre Province People’s Committee.
Ben Tre has been known as a fast-growing province in the Mekong Delta region in recent years. So, what are the major achievements of Ben Tre province in the past years?
To implement the Resolution of the 8th Provincial Party Congress and the Resolution of the Provincial People’s Council on socioeconomic development tasks, the authorities and people of Ben Tre proactively overcame difficulties and challenges to make socioeconomic progresses.
In recent years, Ben Tre province’s economy has a good growth of 9.97 per cent per annum on average in the 2006-2008 period. The economic structure has positively developed. At the end of 2008, the industrial and construction sectors reached 16.06 per cent, the service sector 31.72 per cent and agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors 52.22 per cent.
Labour structure has also been positively changed, with increasing percentages for the industrial and service sectors. At the end of 2008, the workforce of the agricultural, forestry and fishery sectors accounted for 76.6 per cent; industry and construction sectors, 8.64 per cent; and service sector, 14.76 per cent. Living standards of the people have been significantly improved year after year, with a per capita income of VND8.173 million in 2006 to VND12.569 million in 2008.
Agriculture is being developed quickly and comprehensively, with more focus on highly commercial crops and livestock. In 2008, the province harvested 367,000 tonnes of fruits, 311 million coconut fruits, 519,000 tonnes of sugarcanes, 361,000 tonnes of rice, 170,500 cows, and 280,000 pigs.
The industrial and handicraft sectors continued to be expanded, with an average annual growth of 17.2 per cent. The processing industry has made increasing proportions in the economic sector after many large-scale factories were put into operation. Giao Long and An Hiep industrial parks are quickly being built to house investors.
Total social investment capital from 2006 to 2008 reached VND21,046 billion (nearly US$1.5 billion), with an annual growth of 18.4 per cent. The State Budget’s source was focused on key projects. Traffic, irrigational, water supply, school and hospital networks are regularly upgraded, expanded and standardised to serve the demand of the people. Electric, post, telecom and water supply systems are invested for expansion. To date, the tele-density is 56.6 main lines per 100 residents, 93.07 per cent of households are accessible to electricity and 80 per cent of households are supplied clean water.
Commercial and service sectors continue to be developed with more commercial centres, supermarkets and rural markets being upgraded and constructed by many capital sources to meet the growing local demand. Export revenue growth averaged at 24.6 per cent per annum. The proportion of processed goods is increasing. The tourism industry is quickly expanding with many new garden-based, water, cultural tourist sites. Travel services are being upgraded to meet the increasing volume of visitors.
Other fields like culture, health, education and training are also developed.
What are the main driving forces for socio-economic progress?
Since the start of the tenure of the eighth Provincial Party Congress, the province proactively focuses on leading and materialising the implementation of the Resolution. The provincial authorities determine key tasks to focus on:
In the economic field, the provincial authorities determine key tasks for economic development. Specifically, the industry will act as a breakthrough element, with priorities given to agricultural and aquatic processing industry. The province adopts investment incentive policies to develop advantageous industries with abundant local resources and high market demands, such as seafood, coconut, cacao, fruits and animal feeds. At the same time, it also accelerates the development of other industries such as garment, textile, footwear and construction materials. The service sector will be diversified to launch new services. The commercial sector will focus on upgrading market, commercial centre and supermarket systems. Ben Tre enhances the effectiveness of promoting investment and trade, expanding the market, and expanding export of key local competitive products. The tourism industry will prioritise ecological tourism. Ben Tre province will also quickly develop and diversify transportation, post and telecom services. Concerning agricultural development, the province focuses on two key aspects: gardening and fishery. Ben Tre will pay high attention to investing in traffic infrastructure, especially investments for Rach Mieu and Ham Luong bridges, National Road 57, National Road 60, provincial roads, district roads and rural roads. Other infrastructure facilities will also be developed, including electricity, irrigation and clean water.
In social and cultural fields, the province will prioritize improving the education quality, building schools toward national standards, socialising education, focusing on vocational training to create more career opportunities for local people. The province also implements the hunger eradication and poverty reduction programmes and creates favourable conditions for the people to escape poverty.
In early 2009, Ben Tre inaugurated Rach Mieu Bridge It is described as a milestone in the province. How will this work affect the socio-economic development and investment attraction in Ben Tre province in the coming years?
Rach Mieu Bridge is a long-waited desire of the authorities and people of Ben Tre province. It is making positive effects on social and economic development of the province, especially in industry, commerce, service and investor attraction. In 2008, Ben Tre attracted around US$71 million of foreign direct investment capital and expected at US$80-100 million in 2009.
In 2008 and 2009, many foreign domestic and foreign investors have focused on building industrial park infrastructure, urban zones, resorts, entertainment zones and manufacturing industries.
However, the inauguration of Rach Mieu is a necessary condition, not a sufficient requirement, to attract foreign investors to the province. Therefore, Ben Tre will complete such issues as: focusing on planning industrial zones, defining scale and position of industrial zones until 2020; focusing on training labour force with high working skill and level for business and production units; building and upgrading electric, road, logistic service, transportation and water supply services to meet the demand of investors; ensuring sufficient supply of high-quality materials to serve production and processing industries, especially agricultural and aquatic products; and reforming investment administrative procedures, improving investment climate and enhancing post-licensing supports for investors to attract new investment sources.
Amid the economic crisis, to ensure economic development and facilitate local businesses, what supportive measures will Ben Tre province introduce?
To implement the Resolution 30/2008/NQ-CP dated December 11, 2008 of the Government on urgent measures to avert economic crisis, maintain economic growth and ensure social security, the People’s Committee of Ben Tre province has issued its consistent action plans, with main contents as follows:
- Continue implementing the Decision No. 06/2008/QD-UBND dated March 13, 2008 of the province’s People’s Committee on investment incentive policies to attract investment capital from companies inside and outside province and foreign companies. In 2009, the province will examine and adjust the contents of this legal document to match reality.
- Check and simplify administrative procedures concerning business registration, business licensing, tax code registration and seal provision; provide supports of consultancy, training, governance, information and others for companies to enhance capacity.
- Push up investment promotion activities, focus on investors with strong financial capacity and hi-tech.
- Examine and solve difficulties for investors to speed up their projects, quickly complete documents to kick off State-funded and ODA-funded projects.
-          The banking system must accelerate capital mobilization activities to provide wider access for companies to expand domestic and export markets; apply agricultural development credit policies, provide interest rate supports for small and medium enterprises under the stimulus programme of the Government.
-          Quickly carry out State policies and guidelines on tax breaks, delay and debt extension to help companies, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, develop.
Thank you very much!
Reported by Quoc Hung