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Special Economic Zone Development: Public, Transparent Supervisory Mechanism Needed

Posted: Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Developing special economic zones is one of major policies of the Government and the National Assembly in order to give a strong boost to economic development. Based on this policy, the Ministry of Planning and Investment recently hosted a workshop on “Special administrative - economic unit development - National economic boost” to work out the above content.
Data from the Ministry of Planning and Investment showed that Vietnam has 17 coastal economic zones, 26 border gate economic zones and 328 large-scale industrial parks. Economic zones have to date attracted US$153 billion of investment capital, accounting for 52 per cent of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Vietnam, generating 42 per cent of industrial production and 52 per cent of export value, and employing about 3 million workers. Besides, when projects are deployed in economic zones, industrial parks and export processing zones, they are more easily subject to environmental and technological management. However, the Ministry of Planning and Investment also informed that economic zone development is still facing certain limitations such as minor differences in sector objectives and development directions in spite of efforts of economic and industrial zones. Besides, institutional regime for economic zones, industrial zones and export processing zones is not very superior while their administrative procedures are still complicated and provided by many agents.

Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, Chairman of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, said that Vietnam has planned to build three special economic zones, namely Van Don (Quang Ninh province), Bac Van Phong (Khanh Hoa province) and Phu Quoc (Kien Giang province). According to economists, given locally abundant potential, GDP per capita in three special economic zones may reach US$12,000 - 13,000 a year. Specifically, the government will receive US$1.9 billion from taxes and fees and US$2.1 billion from land resources from Van Don, US$1.2 billion from taxes and fees and US$1 billion from land resources in Bac Van Phong and US$3.3 billion from taxes, fees and land resources in Phu Quoc.

However, according to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Trung, despite optimistic economic outlook, special economic zone development still faces many obstacles since this is the first time Vietnam establishes these special economic zones. We must have a strong law on administrative - economic unit to create a launch pad for three special economic zones to develop strongly and create breakthroughs as expected. In addition, this ruling will specify in detail tax and land incentives, administrative procedures as well as audit regime to oversee, inspect and address emerging issues in deployment.

In addition, according to Dr Tran Dinh Thien, the role of the governors of these special economic zones should be considered as important. Vietnam will need a strict mechanism to control their power. Oversight must be based on competence and accountability elements expressed in open and transparent criteria.

“Special economic zone development requires a special mechanism, even a groundbreaking institutional approach. The Government and the National Assembly should take preferential levels into consideration to avoid investment attraction at all costs. There is a real need for a clear, transparent oversight mechanism on governor authorisation. The authority and duties of governors must be monitored by the National Assembly, the Provincial People’s Council, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, other agencies and the society as well. Oversight must be well oriented to ensure the highest effect,” said Deputy Minister Nguyen Van Trung.

Anh Phuong

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