From its re-establishment in 1997 to 2015, Bac Ninh focused on attracting resources to boost industrial development and advertising its image of dynamism and creativity in economic development. Currently, the province is striving to become a centrally governed city and it has thus kept increasing investment funds, accelerating economic growth together with urban development, and gradually spreading the brand of a dynamic, smart city in the era of international integration.
Becoming a centrally governed city
After years of attracting investment funds for socioeconomic development, Bac Ninh rose to become an industrial province. In 2018, up to 16 social and economic criteria of Bac Ninh province stood among top in the nation. Its industrial production value reached VND1,136 trillion (US$49 billion), accounting for 13.2% of the country’s total value and its export value rose to US$34.85 billion, accounting for 14.7% of the country’s total, ranking second. Its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) ranked 7th, accounting for 3.4% of the country’s, and its budget revenue valued VND28,104 billion (US$1.2 billion), ranked 9th in the country. It attracted 1,310 FDI projects, ranked 6th in the country by registered investment value. Remarkably, Bac Ninh has become a favorite destination for many large FDI projects, which created driving forces for industrial and economic development, increased market size for small and medium-sized enterprises and shaped new development trends in the urban economy.
But, drawing in a lot of big investment projects in a short time led to pressure on infrastructure systems and social issues. The overheating development of Bac Ninh in recent years has also revealed many shortcomings. Infrastructure has not kept up with economic development, resulting traffic congestions, complicated social order and security, especially in industrial areas. Essential public services overburdened, for example healthcare, education, clean water, entertainment and social housing. To tackle these issues, there is a dire need for radical and consistent solutions and for participation of the entire political system from central to local levels. Therefore, building Bac Ninh into a centrally governed city is both an ultimate goal and a total and best solution to address above limitations.
According to projects and plans approved by competent authorities as well as the scientific project for construction of Bac Ninh province into a centrally run city by 2022, Bac Ninh province will carry out planned targets for construction and development of Bac Ninh into the first-grade urban area to lay the groundwork for becoming a centrally governed city by 2022; projects to build and develop Bac Ninh into a cultural - ecological - knowledge city under the model of smart, dynamic, modern, integrated, green, clean and beautiful urban area to promote cultural values featured in Kinh Bac land.
With a vision to 2050, Bac Ninh will become an important economic center of the northern economic region and the Hanoi area. It will center on trade services, training, scientific research, tourism, culture, health, hospitality, industry and logistics; become a hub for cultural exchange, a center of tourism, scientific research and training of the Hanoi region, the northern economic region and the whole country; and become a smart city and a major urban area in the Hanoi region with strong competitiveness against other cities in the country and in the Asia-Pacific region.
Creating new impetus in investment attraction
Mr. Nguyen Tu Quynh, former Chairman of Bac Ninh Provincial People’s Committee, said in recent years, Bac Ninh province has many initiatives recognized and appreciated by the business community, including public administration centers at provincial and district levels, business doctor model, and the launch of Department and District Competitiveness Index (DDCI), which were learned by other localities.
Mr. Dau Anh Tuan, Director of the Legal Department (Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry - VCCI), said, in 2018, Bac Ninh scored 64.5 points to secure the 15th position in the country’s PCI rankings, two places higher than in 2017. Bac Ninh was rated among best-administered provinces and cities. In the Red River Delta region, it ranked 4th after Quang Ninh, Hanoi and Vinh Phuc. Bright spots in improving the local business environment in 2018 were the proactivity of provincial leadership sub-index climbing 12 places in the rankings, the fair and transparent business environment index jumping 15 places, the effective settlement of administrative procedures tending to improve, rising 7 places; the labor training quality increasing one place and the local legal institution system jumped 12 places.
But, Bac Ninh was recommended to pay more attention to what businesses expected from provincial leaders: Reducing burdens of informal charges; easing access to land, accelerating administrative reform, fostering information transparency, improving the quality of business support services, proactively capturing and removing difficulties faced by businesses and facilitating businesses, especially SMEs, to access business resources.
To raise its Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) in 2019 and beyond, the province needs to review the business environment, strengthen business meetings and dialogues at many levels, develop SME support programs, and upgrade business households into corporate entities. Local government agencies need to make information publicly available on their websites, especially development plans, public investment projects, tenders. The province also needs to probe local enterprises for business integrity.
Bac Ninh also needs to carry out many measures to uplift falling sub-indices, with the focus placed on fostering administrative reform, speeding up online business registration, effectively carrying out legal support for businesses, raising the quality of business support services, transparently accessing land resources and production premises, timely rectifying and strictly handling collectives and individuals having bad deeds; and inspecting the land-use right certification processes.
In addition, governmental agencies must raise service quality to increase citizen and business satisfaction; modernize administrative tools according to the e-government form and smart city; and enhance staff capacity and attract investment resources to prepare for being a centrally governed city in 2022. They essentially address difficulties raised by businesses and business associations after government-business meetings and dialogues and uphold public office culture in delivering services to citizens and businesses.