Soc Trang Strives to Become Above-Average Mekong Delta Province

4:52:26 PM | 24/5/2011

Since its reestablishment, Soc Trang province has made tireless efforts for social and economic development, made best use of its advantages, and attracted as much investment capital as possible to serve the process of provincial industrialisation and modernisation. Thus, the province has achieved high economic growth and continuously improved the living standard of the people. Mr Nguyen Trung Hieu, Chairman of Soc Trang People’s Committee, said in an interview with reporter My Chau, "Soc Trang has now grown into a developing, lively and ambitious province ready to make new breakthroughs in the new development era.”
Could you briefly introduce outstanding achievements of Soc Trang in 2010?
In 2010, the province’s society and economy developed comprehensively and achieved positive results. The gross domestic product (GDP) reached VND11,523 billion (US$550 million), representing a year on year increase of 10.27 percent from 2009; and GDP per capita was US$1,070. Agriculture and fisheries, two leading economic sectors, continued to be centrally invested for development and achieved good outcomes. Agricultural production, especially rice production, exceeded the full-year plan. Rice output set an all-time record of 1,966,580 tonnes. The total aquaculture area reached 68,620 ha.
Industry, handicraft, trade and service continued to develop stably. Last year, exports were accelerated and beat the annual target, reaching nearly US$432 million. In 2010, the province granted business licences to 340 new companies, bringing the total number of enterprises operating in Soc Trang to 2,161 with a combined registered investment capital of over VND14,750 billion (US$730 million).
The province also boosted investments for social and economic infrastructure construction to accelerate production activities of enterprises and improve living conditions of people. Social and cultural aspects made progress; social security policies were actively carried out; living standards of people bettered, and the poverty rate sank to 9.14 percent. The achievements in 2010 played a significant role and created fresh momentum for Soc Trang to enter a new period of development.
The rest of 2011 is forecast to be a tough time. What policies has the province adopted to ride out this tough time?
Entering 2011, the economic context is very complicated as we have to stave off inflation on the one hand and deal with threat of economic recession on the other. To overcome this challenge and take full advantage of every opportunity, the province issued Decision No. 36/QD-UBND on the Action Plan for implementing the Central Government’s Resolution No. 02/NQ-CP on major measures to realise socioeconomic development plans and budgetary estimations for 2011. Besides, under the light of the Government’s Resolution No. 11/NQ-CP dated February 24, 2011, Soc Trang province subsequently issued Plan 04/KH-UBND dated March 9, 2011 to effectuate the Governmental Resolution and the Provincial Action Plan on primary measures to control inflation, stabilise the economy and ensure social security.
Guidelines, tasks, solutions and policy mechanisms have been issued adequately and timely but the final outcomes depend on the stage of implementation. Hence, Soc Trang province always strengthens its leadership and direction over the comprehensive deployment of policies, solutions and policy mechanisms, especially solutions for production and business development, economic recession prevention, and social security guarantee. At the same time, the province has also proposed that the Government amend and supplement policies and solutions to deal quickly with difficulties and problems.
Currently, the sea-based economy contributes about 32.26 percent of Soc Trang’s GDP. However, the province is confronting numerous difficulties in sea-based economic development. What has the province done to deal with those difficulties?
Currently, the sea-based economy makes up some 32.26 percent of the province’s GDP. However, the biggest obstacles to the development of Soc Trang’s sea-based economy are insufficient infrastructure, backward technology, and improper investment, particularly for freezing systems; thus the province is unable to create high-value products. Marine economic development is below its potential and efficiency remains low. The province’s comparative advantages of marine economy are not fully exploited. Fish farming is relatively good but offshore commercial fishing, marine, maritime tourism, and coastal industry are slow. The rapid development of aquaculture area requires a large supply of baby shrimp, but the province cannot meet the demand. Farmers lack capital. Inland water resources mismatch production demand, leading to low productivity.
Fully aware of the strategic position and importance of sea economy, the province is determined to focus investments on supporting industries and services to shore up the development of sea-based economy from now to 2015. Soc Trang strives to bring up the GDP growth rate in seaborne and coastal areas to 20 percent per year in the 2010 - 2015 stage, higher than the provincial average. Besides, we will also effectively solve social problems and significantly improve living standards of people in sea and coastal areas, especially Khmer people.
To realise these goals, the province will continue developing agricultural and fishery production models, applying advanced technologies, creating clean products, and boosting productivity and product quality in order to make development breakthroughs, raise competitiveness, and support the cause of industrialisation and modernisation. We will intensify offshore commercial fishing in association with protecting maritime resources and ecological environment. We will focus on developing agricultural and fishery processing industry, ship building and repairing industry, and consumer goods industry. Soc Trang will build the Tran De - Vinh Hai - Vinh Chau - Lai Hoa coastal economic belt and make it a driving force for sea-based economic development. The belt will be constituted by industrial parks, ports, resorts, urban and rural residential zones, aquaculture zones and mangrove ecosystems.
More importantly, we will focus on exploiting maritime tourism advantages in combination with ecological and recreational tourism, and cultural discovery and festivals of three ethnic groups of Kinh (Viet), Hoa (Chinese originated) and Khmer. We will attract investment capital to build tourism infrastructure in Song Phung (Long Phu district), Mo O (Tran De district), Ho Be (Vinh Chau district) and other localities to catch the fancy of domestic and foreign tourists.
Soc Trang province is endeavouring to become an above-average province in the Mekong Delta region by 2015. Would you mind giving more details of this objective?
The master goal for the five-year period from 2010 to 2015 is "Striving to become an above-average province in the Mekong Delta and income per capita close to the national average by 2015." The province will maintain annual GDP growth at 12 - 13 percent between 2010 and 2015. By 2015, the economy will be shifted towards a desired structure; per capita income will reach US$1,800 or more; rice output will stay at 1.7 million tonnes plus a year; fishing output will reach 265,000 tonnes a year; industrial production value will amount to VND12 - 14 trillion; and export revenues will soar to US$500 - 600 million. Each year, the poverty rate is expected to decline 2 - 3 percent, with more than 3 percent seen in Khmer ethnic groups (new criteria).
To realise these targets, the province defines agriculture as the foundation and aquaculture as the spearhead of the economy. It will focus on expanding industrial production, constructing social and economic infrastructure, building a new countryside model to quicken and sustain economic development towards industrialisation and modernisation. Particularly, it will expand commercialised and high-yield agricultural production, accelerate agricultural restructuring, boost the rural economy, develop sustainable fisheries, and ensure ecological environment.
In sea and coastal economic development, from 2010 to 2015 and towards 2020, the province will apply internal strengths and external resources to create socioeconomic development breakthroughs and give a helping hand to the realisation of Vietnam’s strategy of building a powerful sea-based economy. In addition to maritime economic development, the province will attract more investors to An Nghiep Industrial Park and plan the construction of an industrial, urban, commercial and service axis along Nam Song Hau chain (from An Lac Thon to Vinh Chau). The province will invest in some industrial zones and speed up industrial and handicraft development. Together with trade promotion, market expansion and export diversification, Soc Trang will pick up the pace of tourism development to make it a leading economic sector.
With its available potential and advantages, plus the determination of the government and people, Soc Trang province is confident of completing its development objectives, accelerating the process of industrialisation and modernisation, and boosting sustainable socioeconomic development.