By Quoc Hung – Translated by Kim Khanh
Colombo port city project
The city sets target to become a hub of finance and trade in the Southeast Asia by 2030, marking its leading role in Vietnam’s digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
Forty-six years – a long time for a human life but just a blink in an eye for Nhan Huynh, a Vietnamese-American, as he has witnessed an impressive change in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) since Vietnam liberated the South and reunited the nation, putting an end to the 30-year war, in 1975.
|A corner of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
Huynh, a businessperson usually travelling between the US and Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that HCMC, formerly known as Saigon, is his birthplace so wherever he goes, his heart still looks towards this city.
“I still remember… when the South was liberated for national reunification on April 30, 1975, local economy started to decline… many families had to eat cooked rice mixed with potatoes and cassava,” Huynh said.
Just a wink, after 46 years, the city has rapidly and strongly developed…everything has changed… people enjoy a full life with delicious foods, beautiful clothes and many other conveniences … not only me but also many Viet kieu [overseas Vietnamese people] across the world having aspired to invest in the city,” he said.
Tam Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Japanese who has been for many years doing business in HCMC, has expressed his absolute trust in the city’s development and wished to promote long-run projects in the city.
“I was not often here, I was always surprised whenever I came back HCMC, where has been developing fast and more beautiful day by day,” Tam said.
He said: “I am grateful for the city’s flexible policies in business registration, creating favorable conditions for young people to start a business, and for expatriates who wish to head to their homeland like me.”
After 46 years of the day of southern liberation for national reunification, HCMC today has risen to a modern city with many high-rise buildings and wide open roads, along with rich culture and progresses in economic growth, making a great pride for Vietnamese people, business community and Viet kieu as well.
Dr. Su Ngoc Khuong, a senior executive at Savills Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that on a 46-year journey between 1975 and 2021, HCMC has always maintained its role as a leader in promoting key economic development in the South and the whole country.
He said the city every year is in the list of localities with top GDP contribution and also the destination for billion-dollar investors and giant enterprises.
“In the period 2020-21, when the Covid-19 pandemic holds back the world’s economic growth, HCMC is still a solid fulcrum for the country’s development. And in the future, with the goal of building a knowledge-based economy with constant reform and innovation, the city is forecasted to reach further,” said Khuong.
Building a smart city is seen as a great progress of the HCMC after 46 years of liberation. After half a century of war and poverty, the southern city is urgently moving forward with huge plans of expansion and urban development, marking its determination to be one of the top cities in the world.
|The smart city will make a change in the living of local residents, helping them get access to modern services of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism. Photo: doimoisangtao.vn|
The smart city project has been carried out in HCMC since 2018 and will be realized by 2025. It will ensure the city’s economic growth moving towards knowledge-based economy and digital economy, and effective urban governance to improve the quality of living and working environment and enhance people’s participation in management.
As planned, the smart city will benefit local residents in the fields of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism.
Nguyen Nam Hien, Deputy General of Hung Thinh Corp, said over the past years, the management and development of the smart city project have seen many positive changes. Urban space has been expanded along with increasing number of population. “People enjoy more conveniences of a modern city.”
Hien said after more than two years of implementing the smart city project, the HCMC has remarkably changed with many advanced technologies, which brought about positive results.
“The goal of turning HCMC to be a place with modern and civilized life has gradually come true,” Hien said.
Having benefited from the smart city project, Nguyen Thi Thao, a resident in the city’s District 8, told Hanoitimes that her living standard has been significantly improved as she is part of the Fourth Industrial resolution.
“With a smartphone connected to the Internet, I can pay electricity and water bills, get information about traffic jams and floods in the city. It helps me save a lot of time,” Thao said.
People can perform administrative procedures easily in the online form. It is really convenient, fast and modern … the city people’s life has never been better than today,” she said.
The city’s economic growth basing on high-tech and services has been rapidly developed in the city for years, especially after the HCMC Economic Forum 2018 (HEF 2018) themed “Fostering Interactive and Innovative Districts: The Prominent Role of Businesses”, which introduces the construction plan of the city’s Eastern part toward a creative urban model.
With support from leading experts in the world and Vietnam as well, the city has realized its sustainable goals, creating breakthrough reforms in economic development. Of the plan, Thu Duc is seen as the cradle of the digital transformation in the city.
On December 31, 2020, Thu Duc, a creative urban area in the Eastern part of HCMC officially became a city according to a decision issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee.
Thu Duc city, under the management of HCMC, is a development model dependent on the knowledge-based economy, in which it creates a driving force for the development of economy, education and health.
There is still a very far way for Thu Duc city to realize its goals comprehensively but it has appeared some prominent areas that can be seen as images of the HCMC’s economic development in the future. One of them is Saigon Hi-Tech Park, which is expected to be a powerful tractor for high-tech industries under the knowledge-based economy. By the end of last year, about 160 project had been granted investment registration certificates in the park.
|A worker at work in Saigon High-Tech Park in HCM City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
According to Nguyen Anh Thi, Head of the Saigon High-Tech Park’s Management Board, the board has set plan to reach nearly US$11 billion of investment capital by 2025, with an export value of about $30 billion per year, marking an annual increase of 10% on average. Meanwhile, the domestic value added in gross export is expected to gain 35%.
“We expect the domestic enterprises’ production value of high-tech products in the 2020-25 period will increase by at least two times compared with previous five years,” Thi said.
The Saigon Hi-Tech Park is also the first place of Vietnam to begin researching and producing Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine has gone through several stages of testing and got close to being used publicly. “Its pioneering in the production of vaccine has helped Vietnam to be named in the group of countries that can be self-reliant in vaccines, ensuring health security for the nation in the future,” Thi said.
The 2020-25 period is a gear-up step for the city’s development. After the successful innovation of Thu Duc city, the municipal authorities are making best efforts to support business community with many open policies to develop key and competitive products as well as creating condition for local businesses to participate in the global supply chain.
The city will apply high-tech and innovation in production, focusing on investment in finance-banking service, tourism, trade, logistics and infrastructure planning as well as encouraging the production and export of high-tech products, software and digital products.
In this period, the city aims to maintain its key role in the economy in the South and the whole country, taking the lead in innovation and building a high-quality living for local people with a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of US$8,500 per head on average by 2025.
It is expected to become a center of economy, finance, trade, science and technology and culture in the Southeast Asia by 2030, being a leader in digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
By 2045, the city will become an attractive destination in the world and an economic and financial hub of Asia. Local people will have a high quality living standard with GRDP of $37,700 per head on average.
Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Tho, Member, National Financial & Monetary Policy Advisory Council, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City
These include An Phu Intersection in Thu Duc new city and the renovation of Tham Luong, Ben Cat and Nuoc Len canals, to be implemented from now to 2025, according to Phong.
Starting April 27, Vietnam has suffered a new Covid-19 community outbreak with different clusters from north to south. Previously, the nation had gone over a month without community infections.
By Thursday morning, 64 locally-transmitted cases have been recorded in 10 localities, including 27 in Hanoi and 14 each in northern Ha Nam and Vinh Phuc provinces.
Following those confirmed cases, different localities have now reported the first positive test results of people that had come into close contact with Covid-19 patients, prompting action.
Hanoi has called on its citizens to not go out unnecessarily or form large gatherings in public, even for exercising and other sporting activities.
The capital city and Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s largest metropolises, have since the end of last month closed karaoke and massage parlors, bars, and dance clubs, and suspended sporting events.
The same move to suspend such non-essential services has been applied by Da Nang City and Nghe An Province in the central region, as well as Lao Cai Province in the north.
Da Nang has recorded two Covid cases, HCMC one while Nghe An and Lao Cai have none.
Northern Thai Binh Province has applied social distancing across the region starting Thursday noon after five contracted the novel coronavirus. The social distancing model bans gatherings of over 20 people in a place and gatherings of 10 people or more outside workplaces, schools and hospitals. It also requires a minimum distance of two meters between people in public.
Northern province Bac Ninh, with six people testing positive Thursday, has also told its people not to go out if it is not necessary, and stopped all non-essential services while nearby Yen Bai Province has isolated a district of 6,100 residents after reporting five Covid patients.
By Thursday morning, 18 cities and provinces, including Hanoi and Da Nang, have let students stay home to study online. A few of them have planned to let students return to school next week but most have decided to maintain home-schooling until it is safe enough to resume class.
Ho Chi Minh City has planned to let its more than 1.7 million students from kindergarten to high school levels to stay home from next week, by pushing for the final school year exams to be finished this week, one to two weeks earlier then previous schedule.
All tourism services have been put on hold at top attractions in Quang Ninh, including Ha Long Bay, and in Quang Nam, home to Hoi An ancient town.
In a similar move, the northern port city of Hai Phong has decided to stop receiving visitors for now.
The project has been implemented with a goal of improving traffic, water drainage and urban beauty.
The Nguyen Huu Canh Street upgrading project is expected to contribute to reducing traffic congestion and flooding in the street over the past ten years as well as ease traffic pressure at the eastern gateway to the city.
By Quoc Hung- Translated by Huyen Huong