Joining the country’s great overall achievements, in 2019, Soc Trang made a spectacular impression with its fulfilment of all socioeconomic development targets and tasks. This success will be a premise and motivation for the province to reach new achievements in 2020. Vietnam Business Forum Magazine’s reporter has an interview with Mr. Lam Hoang Nghiep, Vice Chairman of the Soc Trang Provincial People’s Committee. Cong Luan reports.
Can you briefly introduce remarkable socioeconomic achievements of Soc Trang province in 2019?
In 2019, the province achieved and exceeded all 20 major targets (including 12 exceeded targets), featuring economic growth of 7.3% - the highest since 2015. The economic structure shifted towards the right direction. The Gross Regional Domestic Product (GRDP) per capita reached VND46 million, VND4 million higher than the target set in the Resolution of the province.
Agricultural production continued to grow in 2019. Rice output totaled 2.17 million tons, 8.6% more than the target of the Resolution and 1.9% higher than in 2018. ST25 rice variety won the World Best Rice Award in 2019. Total seafood output reached 281,352 tons, exceeding the target by 0.55% and rising 9.15% from a year ago.
The industrial production value in 2019 (based on base price in 2010) amounted at VND33,500 billion as planned, 10.74% higher than a year earlier. Strongest growth drives included frozen shrimp with 93,000 tons (up 0.29%), milled rice with 900,000 tons (up 2.55%); and apparel with 6.3 million items (up 15.11%).
Trade and services grew well. Total retail sales of consumer goods and services valued VND80,900 billion, 1.13% higher than the target and 12.63% higher than 2018. The total export value of goods was US$ 830 million, 1.22% higher than the target and 8.36% higher than a year-ago period. Regarding tourism, the province welcomed more than 2.4 million visitors, an increase of over 27% from 2018. The total tourism revenue was VND1,020 billion, 13% higher than the plan and 34% higher than a year earlier.
Culture and society made much progress. Educational quality was raised. Medical examination and treatment for people got better. Social security policies were timely implemented. People's livelihoods were gradually improved. Poverty rate decreased from 8.4% (in 2018) to 4.91% (in 2019), or the number of poor households reduced to 11,264 households in 2019. Political security and social order and safety continued to be maintained.
How actively and flexibly did the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People’s Committee of Soc Trang lead and direct socioeconomic development in 2019?
Right from the beginning of 2019, to realize the goals and tasks set by the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People's Council, the Provincial People's Committee issued Action Program 01/Ctr-UBND dated January 18, 2019 with eight groups of major tasks and solutions. In particular, it focused on directing departments and localities to implement Plan 45/KH-UBND dated March 19, 2019, to further improve the business environment and enhance provincial competitiveness.
In direction and administration, the Provincial People’s Committee was always consistent with its goals, regularly reviewed and promptly gave directions and solutions to create development motivations for all socioeconomic fields in the province. District People's Committees were always active to attract investment funds, identify key industries and areas to focus on, and continuously promote growth. Competent agencies timely identified and removed difficulties and obstacles and brought into full play local potential and strengths by their branch of administration. A lot of new models and effective ways were implemented in 2019.
Thus, the progress of implementing socioeconomic development objectives and tasks were well managed, fulfilled and even exceeded the initial targets. According to its PCI rankings in 2018, Soc Trang province’s governmental response index ranked second among 63 provinces and cities. The business community highly appreciated the role of the Provincial People’s Committee in creating a favorable business environment for developing the private economy. All problems and difficulties against enterprises were promptly removed.
In the past year, how effectively did the province step up public administration reform? To raise the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) in the coming time, what measures will Soc Trang adopt?
Accelerating public administration reform is one of three groundbreaking stages of socioeconomic development strategy defined by the Soc Trang Provincial Party Committee in the 2015-2020 term. To do this, every year, the Provincial People’s Committee issues PAR plans in which it focuses on solutions, models and initiatives that produce better efficiency and quality to public services. As a result, the province’s administrative reform changed positively. The index of public satisfaction with state administrative agencies reached over 80% annually. The province’s Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index) improved. In 2018, its PAR Index ranked 24th out of 63 provinces and cities, 22 places higher than in 2017, 25 places higher than in 2016 and three places higher than in 2015.
With respect to PCI improvement, the province issued Plan 08/KH-UBND dated January 10, 2019 to establish four main groups of solutions: Enhancing communication, raising awareness and responsibility in practice to lift up the PCI Index; accelerating public administration reform and improving the investment and business environment; improving the quality of officers on duty; and strengthening support for businesses. Particularly, the province assigned tasks to departments, agencies and localities to act on specific solutions and tasks.
In 2020, the Provincial People’s Committee will carry out the Department and District Competitiveness Index (DDCI) to gauge the performance of provincial agencies and district authorities in the 2020-2021 period. It expects this tool will help improve administration, create motivation to raise the quality of related administrative procedures for investors and enterprises, and form a favorable environment for investment, production and business activities.
Recently, wind-power potential in Soc Trang has interested many investors. Can you tell us criteria for selecting investors in this industry?
Soc Trang province is located in the Mekong Delta, one of 28 coastal provinces in Vietnam, with a 72-km coastline. In recent years, the province has focused on drawing investment funds, developing industries and fields suitable to local socioeconomic situations, natural characteristics and population to utilize available advantages and potential. For example, the province has developed high-tech agricultural economy, processing industry, marine economic sectors (e.g. seaport, logistics and renewable energy), trade, service and tourism.
Particularly in the wind power industry, after the 2018 Investment Promotion Conference, many investors have come to study and research wind power projects. To ensure transparency in selecting qualified and experienced investors for wind power projects, the province introduced a set of investor selection criteria to execute projects under Decision 1270/QD-UBND dated May 30, 2018, mainly covering such criteria as financial capacity, experience and progress: Projects use least land for a unit of power generation capacity and use advanced environment-friendly technology; investors have the best plans to use turbine farms; investors approach and survey locations for the province’s planning and have project documents. The decision also has some social security criteria.
So far, the province granted investment licenses to nine wind power projects with a combined capacity of 262.4 MW at Positions No. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 18, 19 and 20. These projects have a total investment capital of VND11,334 billion. Currently, Project No. 1 is underway. Projects No. 5, 3 and 6 were also kicked off. Other projects will be commenced in the second quarter of 2020.
By the end of 2020, three projects are expected to come into operation, including projects No. 1, 3 and 5. In addition, the province is submitting additional power planning for 19 wind power projects with a total turbine capacity of 1,709 MW. In the next phase, the province will continue to evaluate the offshore potential of Soc Trang sea waters to propose adding its power projects to the Power Planning VIII to draw investment capital to utilize local potential and advantages; ensure energy sources for daily life and production activities of people and enterprises in the region and the whole country.
What objectives and tasks will Soc Trang province focus in 2020?
In 2020, Soc Trang is determined to ensure quality, sustainable and effective economic growth, improve labor productivity, and achieve economic growth of over 7.5%.
To accomplish these goals, the province will concentrate on fulfilling three strategic breakthrough stages: Strengthening public administration reform, developing human resources, and increasing investment in socioeconomic infrastructure system. Soc Trang will center on solutions to obtain the economic growth target of over 7.5%.
The province will continue to execute solutions for a better investment and business environment, improve the quality of investment attraction, speed up the settlement of related procedures to enable investors to launch their projects soon, particularly important projects with positive impacts on local socioeconomic development. Soc Trang will introduce business support, help enterprises to connect supply and demand, access and expand markets; and accelerate the progress of carrying out activities under the Small and Medium Enterprise Development Project, so as to achieve its targets.
By Cong Luan, Vietnam Business Forum