In recent years, Son La province has made great efforts to improve the investment environment and attract investment capital, but the outcomes are limited and incommensurate with local potential and advantages. In the 2016 - 2020 period, Son La is determined to take game-changing solutions to better the investment climate. To learn more about this issue, Vietnam Business Forum Magazine has an interview with Le Hong Minh, Director of the Department of Planning and Investment of Son La province. Ngo San reports.
Could you please introduce the investment results of Son La province in recent years? How are the size, quality and status of licensed projects in the province?
Son La province has paid careful attention to investment attraction in recent years. Since Investment Law 67/2014 took effect and the master plan for Moc Chau national tourism zone was announced, and especially after the Provincial Party Committee issued Resolution 07-NQ/TU on investment attraction orientation in the 2016-2020 period on October 1, 2016, the province has attracted potential investors such as Muong Thanh Group, Vingroup and CP Company. As of November 2016, Son La licensed 306 investment projects with a total registered capital of VND33,415.07 billion, including nine foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with a registered capital of US$148,080,000 (VND3,113.244 billion). In the first 11 months of 2016, the province approved 82 projects valued VND3,041.390 billion and received five new NGO projects with a combined grant of US$1,828,145.
However, the province also confronted the following difficulties in investment attraction:
The number of licensed projects is few and the project scale is small. Licensed projects have weak ripple impacts on local economy and society, on the province and on the region. As some investors have not made effective preparations, they have to repeatedly change their projects. Some projects have not contributed to the local budget in proportion to their investment values and operating scales.
Some projects are delayed or just registered to keep the land for future proposes, resulting in many projects not being constructed or remaining inactive.
The investment value for social and economic infrastructure is limited while the State fund for this is insufficient and slowly disbursed.
2016 is the first year Son La province executes the medium-term development plan from 2016 to 2020. Would you be kind enough to briefly introduce the major investment attraction directions and solutions of Son La province for the next five years?
To mobilise resources for socioeconomic development in the context of limited State budget, the Department of Planning and Investment will base on Resolution 07 -NQ/TU dated October 1, 2016 of the Provincial Party Committee and advise the Provincial People’s Committee to carry out key investment attraction solutions as follows:
- Coordinating with ministries, central agencies and investors to complete specific policies and mechanisms and carry out the construction plan for the Moc Chau national tourism zone, complete specific policies and mechanisms for development of important projects, especially major traffic projects like Hoa Binh - Son La Highway, National Highway 43, National Highway 37, National Highway 4G and bypasses for urban areas.
- Advising the Provincial People's Committee to work out detailed investment policies and regulations provided by the central government; reviewing investment incentive mechanisms and policies; working out solutions for effective implementation of policies; proposing amendments to current policies to match the conditions of Son La province.
- Reviewing, supplementing and issuing some policies on investment attraction such as completing the construction plan for the Moc Chau national tourism zone, integrating agricultural development with tourism development; supporting vocational training and community-based tourism development, diversifying investment forms; encouraging the establishment and development of cooperatives; building mechanisms and policies on tourism development on the Da River; advising the provincial government to review and issue land compensation, resident resettlement policies based on local characteristics; proposing the Provincial People’s Committee to reward collectives and individuals with excellent achievements in investment attraction.
- Stepping up administrative reform, improving the modern investment and business environment, with the focus placed on shortening the time for handling administrative procedures concerning investment and business registration: Carrying out three market entry procedures; granting business registration certificates and corporate seals within three working days; granting investment registration certificates within three working days from the date of receipt of investment decision issued by the Provincial People's Committee, a move to effectively realise Resolution 30c/NQ-CP of the Government dated November 8, 2011.
How do you assess the progress of administrative reform related to investment attraction in Son La province?
In past years, the Provincial Party Committee, the Provincial People’s Council and the Provincial People’s Committee have paid due attention to drawing investment flows and inviting domestic and foreign investors to Son La to tap local potential and advantages for socioeconomic development.
To have a favourable investment and business environment, Son La province has focused on institutional reform and administrative reform and particularly enhanced the capacity and competency of officials in charge of investment promotion. The province has ensured the publicity and transparency of administrative procedures, shortened the time of settling investment procedures, reviewed and repealed overlapping and inconsistent provisions, particularly procedures of investment registration certification, business registration certification and investment incentive certification. The province holds quarterly, annual dialogues with local businesses and investors to learn about their issues and effectively and promptly take best solutions.
Son La province has focused on directing, reviewing and adjusting socioeconomic development and sectoral planning, particularly land-use planning, and made public development plans on mass media. For that reason, investment attraction results in the past time are remarkable.
Companies investing in service, trade, agriculture, forestry, industry and construction sectors have bigger scales and more modern architecture. Specifically, Muong Thanh Hotel and Trade Centre Complex, costing VND500 billion, went into operation in 2016. Three big companies arrived in the province to study investment projects (Vingroup planned to invest VND600 billion to invest in a commercial centre and housing complex in Son La City. Becamex Binh Duong Group Sun Group also came to the province to explore investment opportunities).
Although Son La province’s provincial competitiveness index (PCI) climbed five places, it still stayed in the range of good provinces. What do you think about this result? What has the province done to give a lift to this result in a sustainable manner?
According to the PCI rankings in 2015, Son La province’s PCI score was 57.21 points, ranked 44th out of 63 provinces and cities surveyed and fifth out of 14 northern mountainous provinces. The ranking climbed five points compared with that in 2014, and from the range of average provinces to the range of good provinces.
The progress accrued from efforts of the whole society in the province in raising competitiveness, particularly the leadership and guidance of the Provincial Party Committee, the Provincial People’s Council, the Provincial People’s Committee, all-tier governments and all sectors. The province has also focused on perfecting mechanisms and policies on social and economic development and infrastructure development investment, especially agricultural and rural infrastructure, and improved the business environment. The province has stepped up public administration reform, especially in administrative procedures, public finance, apparatus and personnel to provide a more favourable business and production environment for organisations, businesses and people.
However, to improve some weak component indices and promote achieved results in 2015, the Department of Planning and Investment has counselled the Provincial People’s Committee to carry out a number of measures to raise the PCI in a sustainable manner as follows.
One, leaders at all relevant bodies need to focus on mass communications on objectives and tasks of Resolution 19-2016/NQ-CP dated April 28, 2016 and Resolution 35/2016/NQ-CP dated May 16, 2016 of the Government.
Two, the province will focus on drastic reform of administrative procedures at all levels and in all sectors in order to perfect administrative institutions and apparatuses by streamlining and applying information technology to daily works at all levels. The province will also step up the expansion of one-stop single-window mechanism in handling administrative procedures.
Three, the province will continue perfecting administrative procedure policies, renovate administration to enhance the quality of public administration reform and good governance, thereby raising the Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) and bettering the overall business environment and the provincial competitiveness.
Four, the province will review legal documents to timely find inconsistent, contradictory, overlapping and expired legal documents or improper ones to repeal, replace, amend and supplement.
Five, the province will regularly organise thematic dialogues with businesses, especially on pressing issues such as investment, land, construction, site clearance, tax, credit and labour. It will also strengthen capacity of handling complaints lodged by enterprises.
Six, Lang Son province will renovate personnel organisation, particularly scoring working performances, to choose dedicated, well-behaved professional dynamic employees for promotion, while strictly treating officials and public servants who commit acts of harassment or overly bureaucratic attitude. The province will continue to consolidate and perfect organisational structure, functions and duties of professional bodies.