Ho Chi Minh City: Promoting Dynamic and Creative Tradition

10:08:59 AM | 6/5/2010

Ho Chi Minh City is a fast-growing dynamic city contributing 20 % to the country’s GDP. Vietnam Business Forum’s reporter Thanh Hoa has an exclusive interview with Mayor Le Hoang Quan on the 35th anniversary of southern liberation and national reunification.
Could you introduce the outstanding achievements of the city 35 years after of liberation?
After 35 years of construction and development, Ho Chi Minh City has promoted its dynamic and creative tradition, new practice and new thinking and attained important and comprehensive achievements.
Firstly, the economy has recovered and continuously expanded year after year. For years, the city achieved annual GDP growth of 10-12 %. The economy has been restructured, with a higher proportion of service in the GDP. Industry has created significant value and used less labour. The agricultural sector has developed in association with urban ecological tourism development. All economic sectors continue to expand. The total social investment capital has steadily risen, accounting for 35 % of GDP. The city has contributed a third of the country’s industrial production value, a third of the national export value and a fifth of national GDP.
Secondly, urban management and development continue to progress and infrastructure systems are improved to support economic development and heighten living standards. The city has focused its resources on implementing urban planning, industrial park and export processing zone planning and traffic system development planning, setting up important downtown approach roads, belt roads, north-south axis roads, ring roads, subways and elevated roads. New urban areas like Phu My Hung, Thu Thiem and Tay Bac have been invested and developed in harmony with the municipal space. Urban services such as electricity, water supply, drainage, sanitation and wastewater treatment were invested. The production environment has been improved and cleaner production technologies have been adopted.
Thirdly, education, training, science and technology have marked significant progress. The city leads the country in educational universalisation and has universalised secondary education. Each year, Ho Chi Minh City will spend some 20 % of capital on basic construction and school construction. Educational socialisation has expanded with positive results and social consensus. The city has focused on in-depth scientific and technological research and applications to create high-quality, highly competitive products and services to serve production and replace imports.
Fourthly, many social areas are very progressive, while the spiritual and materialistic lives of the people have been uplifted. Public healthcare is progressive. The medical network continues to be consolidated and developed, medical service quality and capacity can meet pubic healthcare demand. Social security programmes have achieved good results. The city has completed poverty eradication, with a per capita GDP baseline of VND6 million. In 2009, the poverty rate under the new criteria (with a per capita GDP baseline of VND12 million) was reduced to 8 %.
In the new stage of development, the city has focused on measures to quicken and sustain socioeconomic development, helping realise economic development targets, maintain economic growth at a reasonable rate, prevent inflation and ensure social security. Particularly, the city has prioritised important investment programmes like infrastructure upgrading programmes to mitigate traffic congestion, flooding and environmental pollution; human resource development programmes for industrialisation and modernisation; administrative reform programmes; economic restructuring programmes; and international economic integration programmes.
In general, after 2020, the city will become a socialistic, civilised and modern city and will be one of most dynamic and fastest-growing city in Southeast Asia and the Asia - Pacific region. The city will take the lead in industrialisation and modernisation to become a multifunctional, economic, financial and service centre of the nation.
How has the city been able to ride out recent economic difficulties?
HCM City, like other localities in the country, carried out economic development plans amid growing socioeconomic difficulties and challenges. In 2008, many economies were stressed by high inflation and soaring prices. Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh City in particular were inevitably hit by the storm, but the situation was reversed in 2009 with the global financial crisis and economic recession. Worse, natural disasters and epidemics undermined the economy, reflected in declining export, tourism and foreign investment attraction.
With a dynamic and creative tradition, Ho Chi Minh City has centrally instructed and regulated the implementation of solutions launched by the Government to prevent economic slowdown, maintain reasonable growth, ward off inflation and ensure social security, political stability, social order and safety and national defence. With the determination of authorities at all levels, organisations, enterprises of all economic sectors and people, Ho Chi Minh City has come through the most difficult period and is gradually returning to the recovery path. Eighteen out of 20 socioeconomic criteria reached the targets in 2009. Only GDP growth (targeted at 8 %) and export revenue fell short of targets. Total social capital investment exceeded the plan by 9.4 %, showing enormous social resources. At the same time, the business community and citizens always believe in policies and guidelines of the Party and State and believe in a better investment environment. Issues related to social security, education, health, culture and environmental protection are focused, while administrative reform and the fight against corruption and waste are improving, and politics, security and defence are stabilised. The city will continue promoting these aspects in following years.
What measures does the city adopt to attract foreign investment capital?
Undoubtedly, FDI is playing a very significant role in the city’s development and acting as a perfect supplement to municipal development investment. It helps the city maintain economic growth in subsequent years and accelerate the process of economic restructuring, export increase, industrial development and high-tech development.
However, in 2009, FDI decreased significantly compared with a year earlier, reaching only US$1.7 billion, equal to 20.24 % of the preceding year, primarily due to the global financial crisis and economic downturn. Noticeably, international donors pledged to grant US$8 billion of ODA loans to Vietnam. Many investors have started their projects to support more outside capital flows. The city is accelerating the construction of major transport works and the simplification of administrative procedures, perfecting site clearance, land compensation and resettlement policies and training human resources to meet economic restructuring requirements.