Carrying out the groundbreaking stage of "Strengthening administrative reform, enhancing competitiveness and improving the investment environment" in the spirit of the resolution of the 15th Provincial Party Congress (2020-2025 term), Son La province launched many tasks and solutions in this regard and achieved positive results, thus, creating an image of a dynamic, friendly government and enticing investment flows. Vietnam Business Forum's reporter has an exclusive interview with Mr. Hoang Quoc Khanh, Chairman of Son La Provincial People's Committee, to learn more about this issue.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh at a working visit to a farming area in Son La province
Son La province is determined to successfully achieve its economic growth, investment attraction and business development goals. Could you please introduce some of its outstanding results?
Defining that 2022 is an important year that reinforces the foundation for carrying out the 5-year socioeconomic development plan (2021-2025) and upholding achieved results with a positive spirit, the Provincial People's Committee continued to effectively execute the Government's principle of action "Unity and discipline, active adaption, safety and effectiveness, recovery and development” and try the best to achieve given tasks and goals.
The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) in 2022 was estimated at VND34,184 billion, representing an annual growth of 8.54%, with agriculture - forestry - fishery accounting for VND8,288 billion, up 1.3%; industry - construction making up for VND10,340 billion, up 19.59%; service accounting for VND13,153 billion, up 6.25%; and taxes accounting for VND2,343 billion, up 4.76%. The economic structure continued to shift in the right direction in line with development goals.
In agricultural production, the province focuses on effectively growing fruit trees on sloping land; accelerating high-tech application, and developing organic agriculture. Son La has developed 250 supply chains of organic agricultural and aquatic products; granted 281 planting area codes for 4,608.45 ha of fruit trees for export, 37 packing facilities for export and 24 agricultural products protected by the National Office of Intellectual Property. The province has applied good agricultural practices and equivalent standards to 5,917 ha of crops. The livestock industry is directed for commercial farming, both on large scale and on farm scale.
The Index of Industrial Production (IIP) rose 168% from a year ago and 9.5% higher than the expected target. The agricultural product processing factory of DOVECO Son La Fruit and Vegetable Processing and Export Center and many agricultural processing and handicraft production facilities were completed and put into operation. The province sped up implementation of the Program on rural electricity supply from the national grid and brought power-accessed households to 94.1% in late 2022.
Trade developed strongly, boosted by estimated annual retail growth of 17.4% to VND27,000 billion in 2022. The merchandise export value rose 8.5% to US$174.8 million, including US$163.2 million of agricultural and food products, 0.43% higher than the plan. The province successfully coordinated in many trade promotion activities like organizing a conference on agricultural logistics development in Son La province in 2022, hosting the conference on promoting mango and agricultural product consumption and export in Son La province in 2022, facilitating exchange and traceability of agricultural products in Son La province, connecting 20,000 farmer households to join e-commerce platforms, organizing trade promotion events for Son La agricultural products in big cities such as Hanoi, Da Nang and Hai Phong, and introducing Son La agricultural products at six Winmart supermarkets.
Additionally, tourism experienced a rapid recovery. Tourist arrivals increased in association with such events as the 4th Vietnam Trail Marathon, the first off-road motorcycle race (first phase), a series of Moc Chau Plum Festivals, Bach Long Glass Bridge inauguration, the Prime Minister's dialog with Vietnamese farmers, and Vietnam Fruit and OCOP Product Festival 2022. The province currently has 540 accommodation facilities, including 38 hotels (1-5 star class), and 502 motels, homestays and other types of accommodations. Tourist arrivals to Son La were estimated at 3.2 million in 2022, an increase of 3.51 times over a year earlier. Tourism revenue was forecast at VND2,800 billion, 3.29 times higher than a year ago.
Besides, investment attraction and business development are optimistic. In 2022, the province licensed six projects with a combined registered capital of VND2,389 billion, specially the VND2,000-billion Moc Chau hi-tech milk processing factory with a yearly output capacity of 200 million liters of milk. Son La province licensed 280 new enterprises and witnessed 90 suspended entities to resume normal business operations, bringing total companies in the province to 3,250, which registered to invest a total of VND52,000 billion.
With unremitting efforts, the province was determined to achieve all targets set for 2022 and create momentum for both the breakthrough period and the rise in the coming time.
Delegates at the conference to announce the planning of Hoang Van Thu industrial cluster and promote investment into industrial clusters in SonLa province
To unlock potential advantages to enable Son La to achieve breakthrough development, how is province dealing with development bottlenecks in policies, transport infrastructure, administrative procedures among others. What do you think about these bottlenecks and the key to resolve them in the future?
Covering 14,000 square kilometers, Son La is the third largest province in the country by area and has the 31st largest population among 63 provinces and cities. The province has a majestic nature, a long historical tradition and cultural identity. In the past time, Son La has focused on socioeconomic development and growing fruit trees along mountain slopes is a big change in thinking. It has also preserved and promoted cultural identity and turned tourism into a spearhead economic sector.
What has been achieved by the province remains incommensurate with local potential because of weak social investment resources, slow administrative reform and insufficient transportation infrastructure, especially external transport connectivity. To remove these bottlenecks, the province proposed and recommended the Government, the Prime Minister and central agencies to allow public investment and assign the province to invest in Hoa Binh - Moc Chau Expressway; allow upgrade investment of Na San Airport in the form of public-private partnership; study and consider proposals for capacity expansion of Son La Hydropower Plant from 2,400 MW to 3,200 MW; allow the province to work out a pilot scheme for trading in forest carbon credits; and work out matters concerning the construction of Moc Chau National Tourist Area. To date, the Government and central agencies have basically agreed with the province’s proposals and recommendations and are ready to work together to solve them.
In addition, the province has drastically carried out strategically visionary planning to unlock local potential and competitive advantages. While restructuring agricultural production, the province will speed up industrial development, especially downstream processing and branding. The province will concentrate on sustainable development of hydropower, solar power, and wind power, combined with water conservation, forest preservation and investment attraction while making tourism a spearhead economic sector. Son La will radically improve the investment environment, raise administrative reform indicators, increase the popularity of online public services, speed up digital transformation, promptly tackle difficulties in business and startup support.
Son La province will continue to make and perfect mechanisms and policies based on actual development requirements; focus on removing difficulties, reforming administrative procedures and enhancing the business investment environment
Currently, the entire political system of the province is working together to clear bottlenecks and gradually unlock local potential and resources for Son La to make a strong breakthrough in the future.
Over the past time, Son La province has strongly reformed public administration, improved the business environment, enhanced competitiveness and achieved optimistic results. How do you think about this transformation?
To achieve innovative administrative reform, improve the business environment and enhance competitiveness as per the resolution of the 15th Provincial Party Congress, the Executive Board of the Provincial Party Committee promulgated Resolution 03-NQ/TU dated January 21, 2021 on speeding up administrative reform in Son La province in 2021 - 2025; Resolution 07-NQ/TU dated January 21, 2021 on investment attraction in Son La province in 2021-2025. The Standing Board of the Provincial Party Committee also issued Official Dispatch 534-CV/TU dated May 28, 2021 on strengthening implementation of solutions for higher Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI). On these foundations, the Provincial People's Committee issued and implemented Plan 77/KH-UBND dated March 22, 2021 on implementation of Resolution 03-NQ/TU and Plan 94/KH-UBND on implementation of Resolution 07-NQ/TU and directed relevant agencies and localities to concretize their tasks and solutions for the five-year period and in each year of action.
In particular, in 2021, the province conducted a survey on District and Department Competitiveness Index (DDCI) in Son La province to adopt more forms of dialogue, raise transparency and accountability, improve the investment environment and strengthen competitiveness in a comprehensive manner.
Son La province established a working group for project support in order to capture project difficulties; actively remove obstacles in investment, land, and site clearance procedures. Provincial and local agencies actively hosted dialogues with investors and promptly solved bottlenecks existing in the investment and business environment.
With these efforts, Son La province’s PCI 2021 scored 62.45 points to rank No. 46 out of 63 candidate provinces and cities, nine places higher than in 2020. Eight out of 10 component indices looked up: Business support services index rose by 0.73 points; provincial leadership dynamism by 0.65 points; fair competition by 0.59 points; legal institutions and security by 0.29 points; transparency by 0.23 points; informal charge by 0.16 points; access to land by 0.15 points; and time cost by 0.06 points. This progress made Son La an attractive destination for investors.
Administrative reform continued to be accelerated. The provincial government directed relevant agencies to reform administrative procedures together with carrying out socioeconomic development plans in order to raise the Public Administration Reform Index (PAR Index), the Vietnam Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) and PCI. The province will continue to speed up State administrative reform plan in 2022 and in 2021-2025.
The province will continue to perform its tasks and solutions for a better business environment in 2022 and beyond. In particular, the Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial People’s Committee will require public employees to uphold their sense of responsibility and self-consciousness in performing official duties wholeheartedly for the common good. The province will resolutely handle violations and delays in handling administrative procedures at the following stages: construction licensing, site clearance, land and environmental procedures.
Thank you very much!
By Ngo Khuyen, Vietnam Business Forum