Since its re-establishment 25 years ago, Soc Trang province has applied many open policies to catch the fancy of investors. With the determination and engagement of the entire political system, the image of a friendly, open and prosperous Soc Trang is becoming more familiar and more trustworthy than ever before the eyes of domestic and international investors. The following conversation with Mr Lam Hoang Nghiep, Director of Soc Trang Department of Planning and Investment, will explain the magnetism of Soc Trang to investors. Hoang Lam reports.
How have Soc Trang province’s investment attraction efforts been rewarded, especially in FDI attraction?
Since the province was re-established, Soc Trang has carried out many investment promotion activities with various effective methods. Especially for the past five years, apart from applying general investment incentive policies provided by the Government of Vietnam, the province has always given top priority to speeding up administrative reform, with the focus placed on simplification of administrative procedures to facilitate businesses and investors. Specifically, the Soc Trang Provincial People’s Committee instructed the Department of Planning and Investment to be a lead agency to contact and support enterprises and investors in the course of surveying investment locations, inquiring information and carrying out investment procedures. Accordingly, when investors need to perform investment procedures, they just need to go to the Centre for advice and guidance.
By exerting efforts to tap available economic potential and advantages, accelerate administrative procedure reform, quicken and smoothen cooperation and coordination among relevant bodies, and promptly remove difficulties and obstacles in the way of investors, the investment environment of Soc Trang province has become more alluring to investors. Since 2009, the province has contacted, met, provided information and introduced investment opportunities to 434 domestic and foreign companies investors; issued new investment certificates to 121 projects with a total capital of over VND31 trillion, of which 42 projects with nearly VND2,900 billion are industrial zones and 79 projects with over VND28 trillion are outside industrial zones. Licensed projects are mainly engaged in package production, fertiliser production, aquaculture and agricultural product processing. The province licensed 13 FDI projects with a total registered capital of US$125.62 million.
The province has achieved encouraging results in investment attraction in recent years, helping it to realise objectives of the 5-year socio-economic development plans in 2011 - 2015 and in 2016 - 2020. Going into operation, investment projects not only generate jobs, increase incomes and improve material and spiritual life of the people but also help socio-economic infrastructure development and create motivations for accelerated economic restructuring towards industrialisation and modernisation.
In response to the Prime Minister's Directive 1617/CT-TTg on enhancing the implementation and rectification of FDI management, Soc Trang has reportedly eliminated many suspended or delayed FDI projects. Could you please elaborate on this effort?
Carrying out Directive 1617/CT-TTg of the Prime Minister, with a determination to cleaning the investment environment, Soc Trang has stepped up the review of FDI projects in the province. Consequently, six slow-moving, investor-absent and dissolved FDI projects with nearly US$80 million were revoked investment licences.
Soc Trang province is always willing to create favourable conditions for FDI enterprises to do business in the province. But, we are determined to eradicate ineffective investors to provide opportunities for new capable projects and investors.
What has Soc Trang province done to introduce investment policies, strengthen the apparatus, reform administrative procedures, improve the investment environment and facilitate investors to do business in the locality? How will solutions for a better business and investment environment be actively deployed in the coming time?
The Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People's Committee have issued many guidelines and policies to this effect. Accordingly, domestic and foreign investors will be supported to access land sources when they carry out investment in the province. Projects investing in specially encouraged fields will be supported 100 per cent of funds to build technical infrastructure outside their project boundaries. In addition, they will be advised implementing the project will also be advised and financially supported to fulfil investment procedures, carry out trade promotion, train employees and transfer technology when they deploy their projects.
In order to attract investment in socialised projects, the Provincial People's Committee issued Decision 19/2016/QD-UBND dated August 11, 2016 on land rent preference policy for social projects concerning such fields as education - training, vocational training, health, culture - sports, environment, and judicial expertise. Accordingly, investors carrying out socialised projects that meet regulatory conditions will be entitled to policies on land rent reduction and land-use purchase change fees. In addition, the province has always stepped up investment attraction, strengthened its apparatus and intensified administrative procedure reform in the spirit of Resolution 19 and 35 Resolution of the Government on improving the business investment environment, enhancing competitiveness and supporting business development to 2020.
In 2016, Soc Trang province secured a high position in the rankings of the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI), with the 22nd position out of 63 provinces and cities nationwide and 7th among 13 provinces and cities in the Mekong Delta. Being dissatisfied with the current results, in the coming time, the province will continue to issue the PCI Improvement Action Plan in 2017 - 2020 to serve as a basis for all sectors and localities to develop their tasks and solutions to make the investment environment more and more favourable and transparent.
Accordingly, the province will focus on deploying consistent solutions to promote and improve the scores of already-high indicators and raise the scores of low-ranked indicators in PCI. The province will enhance publicity and transparency of administrative procedures, socio-economic development plans and business policies, speed up information technology application to the settlement of administrative procedures, re-arrange capable and responsible public servants at units that receive and return administrative procedures, and strictly punish civil servants lacking the sense of responsibility and deliberately troubling and harassing businesses.
Which core fields and sectors will Soc Trang province focus on attracting investment capital for until 2020? In order to effectively attract investment capital, what practical incentive and support policies for investors will the province offer?
According to the development orientation to 2020, Soc Trang province advocates attracting investment capital for projects in the list of priority projects and carry out the Resolution of the Provincial Party Committee on tourism development. Accordingly, Soc Trang will focus on drawing investment capital for projects engaged in agriculture, industry, commerce, services and tourism.
To attract investment capital effectively, in addition to seriously implementing Government policies and regulations, Soc Trang province will also actively support and guide investors and enterprises to fulfill investment procedures. They need to contact only the Department of Planning and Investment for this work done. Besides, the province will change business support methods before, during and after licensing. At the same time, it will timely solve any obstacles against investors in the course of deploying their projects. Provincial leaders will hold dialogues, twice a year, with business leaders to learn about their concerns.
Depending on the field and the importance of projects to local Socio-economic development, Soc Trang will have preferential policies for infrastructure investment to the fence of projects. Especially, Soc Trang is mobilising all resources to plan and clear investment sites to call for investors to locate their projects.