Dong Thap Success Attributed to Internal Strength

9:41:12 PM | 16/5/2011

GDP growth rate of 14.1 percent in 2006-2010; 3rd in Provincial Competitiveness Index(PCI) 2010 among 63 provinces and cities; IT Award in 2010; these are all part of the achievements recorded by Dong Thap in recent years. Reporter My Chau discussed with Mr Le Minh Hoan, Chairman of Dong Thap People’s Committee the driving force behind such impressive successes.
Could you tell us the achievements of Dong Thap in 2006-2010 and what were your orientation and methods?
In 2006-2010, in spite of difficulties and challenges, Dong Thap continued to overcome and recorded important successes in socio-economic development. The economic growth rate in the past five years maintained an average of 14.1 percent a year, quite high compared to other provinces in the region and the 6.9 percent national average. GDP growth is recorded in all three economic sections of the province: 3.26 percent in industry, 5.6 percent in service and 5.26 percent in agriculture. GDP per capita in 2010 was US$775, higher than the plan of US$768. The economic structure has been transformed positively with industry-construction increasing from 16.28 percent in 2006 to 26.52 percent in 2010, creating a new look for the Dong Thap economy.
Together with economic growth, there is also major transformation in economic sectors and labour structure. Non-State enterprises develop strongly and play an important role in the economy. Currently, the province has over 3,000 private enterprises. Their transformation and development also brings big change in the labour structure.
The targets have been achieved in education, health, culture, science-technology, human resources development, employment and social welfare. The administrative reform was also successful with the application of information technology in all offices. 2006-2010 was also the concluding period of the 30-year development plan of Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds), turning it into a rice granary of Vietnam.
The success is due to the correct development orientation of 2006-2010, relying on industry and urban areas as the driving force, at the same time developing agriculture with added value and export standards, upgrading infrastructure, transport networks, industrial zones and centres combining production, processing and export. The province has improved business environment to encourage business expansion. These efforts have created synergy to build Dong Thap into a nucleus for development in the Mekong Delta and Vietnam in general.
With its existing river network, does the province have a plan for river port development to increase its competitiveness?
With the river network, especially the Mekong River and several trans-national water ways, water transport is a comparative advantage for the province with high efficiency in the transport of commodities, agricultural products and building materials. To utilise this advantage for economic development, Dong Thap has built three big ports along the Tien River in Sa Dec and Cao Lanh with capacity for 5,000 DWT ships. The province is planning to build two more ports along the Hau River with a port suitable for 10,000 DWT ships. 
To develop further the advantage of water transport in export activities, Dong Thap has cooperated with Saigon Newport Corporation to upgrade existing ports into container ports and develop logistics service in the province. It will help businesses promote direct exports from the province, even from factories, saving both time and money for enterprises.
International cooperation is important for provinces to attract FDI and other assistance. How does Dong Thap develop activities in this area?
 The leadership of the province has always attached great importance to international cooperation: meeting investors and financial organizations at   conferences, international fairs and programmes sponsored by central organizations and ministries. As a result, important financial support has been granted through projects and national programmes to build projects of high value and efficiency for socio-economic development.
Fully aware of the importance of FDI, besides central government policy, the province is making every effort to assist businesses in export activities, expanding markets, exporting products to up-markets, and encouraging business development in size and depth.
The province has developed and introduced to investors projects of high feasibility and efficiency. It also assisted trade promotion activities, organized business meetings and introduced the investment environment and the image of the province to embassies, consulates general and foreign businesses in Vietnam.
 Dong Thap has made important progress in the PCI announced by VCCI in recent years, could you elaborate further on your achievement?
As a matter of fact, Dong Thap is without advantages in geographical location or being close to urban centres, therefore we have to mobilize all our resources to attract businesses and promote investment for production.
According to me, the key question for the present time is to change the concept of all levels of relationship between the State and businesses. In Dong Thap, the relationship between administration and businesses is based on several channels such as: meetings on certain topics, visits to businesses, monthly meetings and discussions between provincial leaders and businesses and extraordinary meetings if necessary, surveys by means of IT portals and, most recently, Coffee Business Forum sponsored weekly by Young Entrepreneurs Association. Those activities have brought practical results, especially a closer relationship between authorities and businesses, so business problems can be solved more easily. In PCI 2010, Dong Thap ranked 3rd among 63 provinces and cities with 67.22 points and in the Very Good group. In 2011, the province will survey businesses about State management by provincial authorities so businesses can make their evaluation and the province can identify weaknesses to overcome them.
The second question is a unified orientation on investments. This involves clear-cut decisions on investments. Local authorities focus investments on areas of comparative advantage that bring practical interests for businesses and local people. Those are agriculture, processing industry, and development of border economy and tourism.
The third question is preferential treatment and assistance to businesses. IT application plays an important role and greatly improves administrative reform, saving time and money for businesses and people. It also proves to investors the province’s readiness for economic integration. In fact, on April 23, 2011, the Ministry of Information and Telecommunication awarded Dong Thap for its successful application of information technology.
Finally, the understanding and professionalism at all levels to remove constraints in economic management, encourage investments and resolve other social problems.
Though all Mekong Delta provinces have similar natural conditions, each province has its own comparative edge. Therefore, they must combine their advantages and develop the strategy and driving force for economic development of the whole region. They must avoid incomplete and wrong investments causing unhealthy competition in the region.