Bac Kan, which is near to the northern economic zone, has a lot of advantages for industrial, agricultural, forestry, infrastructure, public services, trade and tourism development. With its determination to attract investors, Bac Kan province has gradually perfected its investment mechanisms, policies and preferences; sped up administrative reform; added efforts to provide business space for investors; and supported them to deal with difficulties to quicken their project progress. To learn about investment attraction results as well as solutions to improve the investment environment to motivate economic development in Bac Kan province, Vietnam Business Forum interviewed Mr Tran Cong Hoa, Deputy Director of Department of Planning and Investment of Bac Kan Province. Ngo Khuyen reports.
Could you please introduce remarkable investment attraction results in the 2011-2015 phase?
Bac Kan attracted 89 domestic investment projects valued VND11,249 billion and two foreign investment projects worth US$800 million as of 2015. The province also drew over VND2,500 billion of ODA and soft loans, of which VND1,660 billion was disbursed, accounting for 80.89 per cent of pledged capital. Investment flows have been on the steady rise since the Law on Investment 2015 took effect. Investment projects mainly registered to engage in mining (ore, lead, zinc, placer gold, etc.), agriculture and forestry. Now, there are two operational mining projects, including a lead smelter with an annual capacity of 5,000 tonnes invested by Bac Kan Minerals Joint Stock Company in Cho Don district and Ngan Son lead and zinc smelter with a yearly capacity of 5,000 tonnes invested by Na Ri Hamico Minerals Joint Stock Company in Ngan Son district. Regarding iron and steel production, Bac Kan province planned to allocate its entire iron ores to a metallurgy complex, owned by Material and Complete Equipment Export – Import Corporation (Matexim), with an annual production capacity of 100,000 tonnes of sponge iron. In the field of agriculture and forestry, Bac Kan also attracted a number of projects such as a joinery factory with an annual capacity of 10,000 cubic metres, a MDF production plant with a yearly capacity 108,000 cubic metres owned by SAHABAK Joint Stock Company.
Domestic and foreign investment projects have provided stable employment, raised living standards for thousands of workers, motivated the local sustainable economy, created ripple effects, promoted technological innovation and transfer, and boosted service development.
How do you assess existing difficulties in investment attraction in Bac Kan province?
In addition to these achievements, Bac Kan still has some limitations that affect its investment attraction. For instance, investment projects pay taxes disproportional to their investment scale as well as the province’s potential. Some investment projects have low efficiency, use many unskilled workers and do not create high added value. Some have not rationally estimated comparative advantages, resulting in inefficient investment and forcing them to change investment models and business sectors industry or restructure their operations. Some investors lack compliance to legal policies on investment like periodical reporting or project transfer.
Weaknesses in investment attraction in recent years are caused by unclear investment orientation policy, preferred focus on the counting number of projects and capital size rather than quality, lack orientation in planning, industry and investment attraction. The advisory coordination among provincial agencies and branches and localities is still quite ineffective and inconsistent in spite of being improved. The province has improper and inconsistent investment incentive policies, limited human resources, and insufficient infrastructure system.
How has Bac Kan carried out its directions and measures to improve the investment environment towards healthiness, fairness and attractiveness to enhance investment efficiency?
Firstly, building a really open, transparent, attractive and convenient business environment for all economic sectors to invest in business and improve competitiveness under Plan No. 183/KH-UBND dated June 16, 2015 of the Provincial People’s Committee; strengthening measures to support investors to deal with problems and obstacles to carry out projects by organising investor meetings, conferences and seminars.
Improving the quality of investment document appraisal and post-licensed project management; strengthening administrative disciplines in directing, operating and performing tasks; reviewing State personnel apparatus; upgrading coordinating efficiency in handling works at State agencies; keeping contact with central agencies to seek their support to carry out assigned functions and tasks.
Resolutely improving component indices of its provincial competitiveness index (PCI), always supporting businesses to deal with their issues, building up business confidence.
Component indices will be raised to bring its PCI rankings to a higher position in the 2016 – 2020 phase. Its PCI rankings are expected to climb five places a year to the group of good provinces in the period.
Secondly, public administration reform is considered a path-breaking step and a key to success so as to better the business environment, attract investors and improve its PCI. Therefore, reforming administrative procedures, improving service quality, improving public administration reform (PAR) index are a central task that all levels and branches of thee provincial government are focusing. Many solutions have been taken and implemented for this purpose like reviewing administrative apparatus, improving the capacity and capability of public staffs and merging some units. The province will further modernise its administrative system and enhance the quality of fast-track single-window administrative mechanism; intensify inspection of tasks and functions.
Thirdly, further building and improving economic development plans, especially land-use plan; publicising approved plans; developing infrastructure to serve investment projects, including transport, electricity, water supply, environment, telecommunication services; creating ready land for investors by planning industrial zones.
Fourthly, training and developing high quality human resources to meet investors’ needs for workers; researching and adjusting labour restructure based on economic restructuring pace, connecting training units with investors to match their supplies and demands. Investors will be given a priority to recruit students in the province-based colleges.
Fifthly, improving investment promotion quality; regularly building and updating investment promotion documents in the form of free CDs and communications on the province’s image and investment climate on central and provincial media; taking part in investment promotion activities in Vietnam and foreign countries; bridging its promotion activities with the country’s similar events to enhance its effects.
To accelerate investment attraction, create motivations for business development, and promote socioeconomic development in 2016 and the following years, Bac Kan pledges to create favourable conditions for businesses and become an attractive destination for investors.
Always accompanying the business community
Mr Ly Thai Hai, Chairman of Bac Kan Provincial People’s Committee
Investors in Bac Kan province may not have as good natural conditions as in other localities but I believe that the province’s support and cooperation will satisfy every investor and business. Consistently supporting investors and enterprises to do business in the province, we are committed to complying with current regulations and providing highest incentives for any individual and organisation investing in the province. In the coming time, we will continue to strengthen State management on investment; review, amend and supplement relevant regulations; and promote administrative reforms to better the environment investment and provide favourable climate for businesses. We always welcome all domestic and foreign investors to do business in Bac Kan province.
Tapping the advantage of local crops
Mr Ha Duc Tien, Director of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development of Bac Kan Province
Bac Kan province has assessed the development status of agriculture and forestry, frankly admitted limitations and weaknesses, and based on findings to take corrective measures to continuously improve added value and sustainable development. The Resolution of the 11th Provincial Party Congress (2015-2020 term) set the target of making Bac Kan an above-average province in the region. The focus will be placed on agricultural and forestry development, particularly highly commercial products like Bao Thai rice, arrowroot, orange, tangerine, seedless persimmon and tea produced under VietGAP. The province has 20 pig farms meeting standards set by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development out of 500 livestock farms. By 2020, 50 per cent of communes will have at least one staple crop/livestock and 80 per cent of communes live on agriculture and forestry.
Ready for development cooperation
Mr Nguyen Khac Nham, Director of Thanh Dat JSC
The initial success of Thanh Dat Company and the business community in Bac Kan is a testament to the support and facilitation of the provincial leadership. The province has soon developed a consistent mechanisms and policies to create an open business environment, trusted and provided the opportunity for business development. Therefore, businesses have confidently invested in the province and gradually asserted their product brands and corporate images. Provincial leaders pledge to provide the best business environment to attract companies to make investment on the one hand and always facilitate the business community to develop prosperously and associate together. In the basic construction sector, as local businesses are small-sized with limited resources. Therefore, a project may need two, three or more companies to carry on. Local construction companies are always ready and willing to make an ultimate effort for the prosperity of Bac Kan.
Meeting local labour demand
Mr Trinh Tien Long, Rector of Bac Kan Vocational Training School
After 15 years of construction and development, the school has made positive contributions to rural agricultural labour restructuring, changed the perception of people and public officials in vocational training, business start-up, poverty reduction, and wellbeing. With 13 professional training majors, after 15 years, the school organised training and retraining for over 10,000 students at primary and secondary levels. Up to 80 per cent of students are employed, using their majors of training.
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