An Giang - Nucleus of Mekong Delta Economic Development

10:05:50 PM | 24/8/2011

With an “open” investment attraction policy; a comprehensive and right exploitation of tourism potential; continuous upgrading of infrastructure systems, particularly traffic infrastructure; the formation of many industrial and commercial centres; and the robust expansion of cross-border trade, An Giang province is growing strongly with steady steps. Mr Vuong Binh Thanh, Chairman of An Giang Provincial People’s Committee, grants an interview on the endless determination and effort of the government and people in the province in the process of doi moi (renovation), industrialisation and modernisation. Quang Thuan reports.
Could you talk about the potential and advantages of An Giang province for stable economic development and effective investment attraction as a component of the Mekong Delta key economic zone?
An Giang has a lot of conditions for diversified economic development. It has delta, forests and mountains. With a large water surface and fertile soil, An Giang has a lot of natural advantages in rice production and aquaculture. This is an important foundation for the province to boost the processing industry and create an export source. The province is also a trade gateway between the Mekong Delta and Ho Chi Minh City with Mekong subregion countries. This is an advantage for the province to spur cross-border economic growth and attract domestic and international tourists. Recently, provincial leaders have hosted several events for local companies to seek cooperation opportunities with other units in Vietnam as well as regional units in Laos, Cambodia, India and other nations, thus creating more momentum and strengths for An Giang in the development journey.
In addition, given its rich potential, An Giang considers tourism a key economic sector in the province. The province is home to well-known tourist sites like Ba Chua Xu Temple, Nui Cam Mountain tourist site, Tra Su mangrove forest, Nui Sap Lake and other places of interest, making it an unforgettable destination on travellers’ itineraries. Besides, the models of tourism in flooding season (waterway tourism to Cambodia and tourism in combination with shopping in border gates) are expanding strongly. In addition, the visa waiver between Vietnam and Cambodia has offered more favourable conditions for travellers crossing An Giang border gates. Additionally, roads connecting Vietnam and Cambodia via Phnom Den (Ta Keo province, Cambodia) and Tinh Bien (An Giang province, Vietnam) border gates allow nonstop movement for vehicles which previously had to stop and reload. This makes transportation cheaper and quicker on cross-border routes. At present, An Giang is actively calling investment capital and offering the best conditions for tourism and travel businesses to invest in restaurants, hotels, tour stop facilities, Mekong discoveries, or Vietnam-Cambodia tour routes.
What were An Giang’s most impressive successes last year?
In 2010, together with post-crisis economic recovery, An Giang has regained strong socioeconomic development momentum and achieved quick success in all aspects. Production and business activities continued to thrive; agricultural production rebounded to add momentum for related industries to grow; service sectors continued to develop and purchasing power expanded. Together with positive economic, social and cultural changes, social infrastructure and welfare were centrally invested; and social safety, national security and defence were guaranteed.
Last year, the province’s GDP growth was 10.12 percent; income per capita reached VND21 million (over US$1,000); State Budget revenues amounted VND3,585 billion; export value topped US$700 million; and social investment capital totalled VND22,364 billion.
Regarding investment attraction, we approved 78 projects with total registered capital of VND7,505 billion, and granted investment certificates to 84 projects capitalised at VND4,334 billion. Since the Law on Investment took effect, we approved 487 investment projects worth VND69,383 billion and licensed 359 of them valued at VND21,263 billion. As regards foreign investment attraction, An Giang has to date licensed 11 projects with a combined registered capital of nearly US$105 million, of which US$35 million has been disbursed. Seven projects are in operation and four are underway.
The year 2011 is coming to its final months. How will the government and people of An Giang province strive for all plans set for the banner year in the remaining months?
To fulfil socioeconomic development targets set for 2011, the entire province must persistently and aggressively implement consistent measures to tame inflation, stabilise the economy, and ensure social security under the direction of the Politburo and the Government. The province will intensify measures to stabilise and develop production and business, speed up economic recovery, strengthen political stability, and improve the material and spiritual life of the people. Particularly, it is necessary to focus on restructuring the economy towards growth models best-suited to local strengths and conditions; speed up the construction of important works; boost investment attraction and trade promotion; and create best conditions for the business community to stabilise production and business, particularly to solve difficulties in accessing capital.
In couple with market and price management, competent authorities will seek ways to expand export markets, especially for projects of local advantage. Apart from effectively applying measures to increase State budget revenues, reduce State budget loss, and save State budget spending, we will consider adopting tax-break policies for companies in trouble. We will intensify the information and propagandising programme, build up consensus in all strata of people on implementing measures concerning inflation taming, macroeconomic stability and social security guarantee.
Given the potential for development of An Giang province in particular and the Mekong Delta in general, do you have any proposals for the Government to support An Giang to tap its economic development conditions, boost investment attraction, and assert its nucleus role in the development of the Mekong Delta key economic zone?
The Mekong Delta key economic zone was approved for formation and development two years ago but the Government has taken no action in supporting the provinces. I suggest that the Government should soon issue policies for this focal economic zone, because beneficiary provinces are still waiting for the signature. Without this An Giang province and the Mekong Delta in general find it very difficult to complete development planning and orientation. Hence, investors inside and outside the province are not confident enough of their new investments for production and business.
As regards border gate economic areas which An Giang defines as a major momentum for economic development breakthrough, I suggest the Government should soon issue appropriate mechanisms and policies. At the present time, central policies are slowly enforced but very quickly changed. This impacts the province’s cross-border trade.
As duty-free sales policy applicable to tourists in nontariff zones is scheduled to expire in 2012, many large-scale investors (invested from VND10 billion to VND100 billion) building duty-free supermarkets in Tinh Bien Border Gate are “living on a knife edge.” If the Government does not extend or rescind the regulation on duty-free goods sales, companies will face a dilemma, because hardly anyone will travel a long distance to purchase goods as expensive as in nearer localities. The limit of VND500,000 worth of tax-free goods a day seems too low now, as the current spending value is very large given price hikes.
In addition, we also recommend that the State have proper mechanisms, policies and capital sources for the province to focus its resources on upgrading trunk roads, waterways, watering systems, schools, and other facilities.