Dak Lak: Driving force in Central Highlands

4:13:00 PM | 22/10/2013

In spite of conditions of economic difficulty, Dak Lak continued growth over the past three years with an average rate of nearly 8.5 percent, budget revenue of over VND10,300 billion and per capita income of over VND27 million. Those achievements are due to efficient implementation of the policy of the central government and National Assembly on five-year plan of socio-economic development (2011-2015). Vietnam Business Forum interviews Mr Hoang Trong Hai, Chairman of Dak Lak People’s Committee. Kim Bao reports.
As Dak Lak is located in the middle of the Central Highlands, what important achievements have been recorded by the province in 2012 and early months of 2013?                
With comparative advantage in natural conditions, after five years of implementing Central Party Resolution 7 and nearly two years of implementing Conclusion 12-KL/TW, Dak Lak has recorded fine achievements with annual economic growth rate of 11 percent in 2008-2013 while poor households reduced to 4 percent in 2008-2010 and 3 percent in 2011-2013. So far, one commune attained 15 national targets, two communes with 13 national targets, eight communes with 8-12 targets, 73 communes with 5-9 targets, 60 communes with 2-4 targets and 8 communes with 1 target. The province has supported the people on housing, land, water supply, production capital, health insurances. As a result, social welfare, political stability and security have been maintained. However, agricultural development is still incompatible with existing potentials and advantages, lacking stability, remaining in low grade of products, unprocessed or semi-processed, while part of local people continue to live in misery and under the danger of impoverishment.
In 2013, Dak Lak has implemented 13 programmes of national targets: Sustainable reduction of poverty; Job and training; Education and training; Population and family planning; Public health; Food security; HIV/AIDS; Clean water and rural environment; Culture; Crime prevention; Drug addicts prevention; New rural area; and Telecommunication to mountainous and remote regions, border areas and islands. The total budget for those programmes amounted to VND268,439 million (over VND96,800 million for investment capital and over VND171,400 million for services), with over VND266,900 million allotted in 2013 and over VND1,400 million transferred from 2012. By the end of June 2013, 52.53 percent of the plan equivalent of VND141 billion has been implemented, over VND78,100 million disbursed (29 percent of the plan). Due to concerted effort, in 2012 the number of poor households decreased from 69,161 to 59,271 together with improvement in education, health, housing and water supply. Those programmes have improved social welfare, cultural life, and public health, created some 12,830 jobs. Meanwhile, infrastructure development, job training and soft loans have ensured stable production and livelihood.
Please tell us about the achievements of the province in administrative reform and future plan and action?
In the first half of 2013, Dak Lak People’s Committee has reinforced 16 steering committees, established 6 new ones, delegated more power to Cultural, Sport and Tourism Department, Veterinary Department, Agriculture-Forestry-Fisheries Product Quality Control Department, Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs Department, developed one-stop shop to facilitate businesses and concerned people. So far, 24 provincial offices, all 15 districts and towns, all 184 communes and wards have applied one-stop shop, 100 percent of offices operated provincial network of LAN, OMS and websites. The application of information technology of the province increased 9 rungs in 2012 compared to 2011 and 21 rungs among State offices.
Dak Lak People’s Committee has issued Decision 323/QD-UBND of February 13, 2012 on administrative reform in 2011-2020, and Decision 1479/QD-UBND of July 10, 2012 on administrative reform in 2012-2015. Accordingly, tasks and goals, solutions and expenses have been clearly defined for concerned offices and units regarding reforms on institutions, formalities,   organizations, officials, staff and public finance. In particular, the province emphasized on public announcement and publication of administrative formalities at all offices and units.  
In addition, ISO 9001:2008 has been applied in 23 units of State offices. As a result, administrative process has been improved saving time and money and defining more clearly the responsibility of officials and staff members, ensuring maximum facilities for investors.
As “coffee capital”, with the presence of strong brands and distributors in Buon Ma Thuot, how will the province develop that comparative edge, especially in trademark registration?
Coffee plays an important role in the agriculture-forestry structure of Dak Lak. It is the main crop in almost all districts and towns of the province and accounting for nearly 40 percent of the total coffee area of Vietnam. By 2012, the coffee area of the province is over 202,000 hectares with over 191,000 hectares yielding 390,000 tons of coffee beans in 2012-2013 crops. Coffee sector contributes over 40 percent of GDP of the province and created 350,000 direct jobs and 120,000 indirect jobs. Buon Ma Thuot coffee brand has been registered by Vietnam Intellectual Property Department under product origin (now Buon Ma Thuot coffee geographical indication) in October 2005 with an area of over 100,000 hectares in 8 districts and towns of Dak Lak. However, in 2010, a Chinese company has exclusively registered in China. The province has entrusted Buon Ma Thuot Coffee Association to lodge a lawsuit to gain back the trademark and register “Buon Ma Thuot Coffee” in other countries under collective brand. After a year of registration in 17 countries, five countries have accepted, seven countries are under processing, and five countries refused for the time being. Consequently, the promotion of Buon Ma Thuot coffee brand remains difficult in foreign markets. In accordance with some consultancy, for the moment, instead of Buon Ma Thuot brand, another Dak Lak coffee brand will register in the US, Canada and South Korea. The registration of Buon Ma Thuot brand will continue in EU.
Dak Lak is located in the development triangular of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, could you elaborate further on its role in political, economic, social and environmental fields?
True, Dak Lak lies in the development triangle of the three countries (73km of border with Cambodia) and is making every effort to develop cooperation with neighbouring provinces. The development triangle was established in 2002 covering 13 provinces of the three countries. In 2011-2012, its economic growth rate was 10 percent and GDP per capita was US$980. Its economy depends mainly on agriculture-forestry-fisheries. The infrastructure remains poor. Recently, Ministry of Planning and Investment, ADB and related Vietnamese provinces (Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Dak Lak, Dak Nong, Binh Phuoc) met and prepare for a consultant conference. A national plan initiated by ADB and Vietnam will focus on certain areas to develop economic cooperation of the three countries. Land routes will be the backbone of the development triangular. ADB also gives high priorities to energy, urban development, industry-agriculture, trade, service, education and especially job training.