12:20:30 AM | 11/2/2015
Since Hanoi - Lao Cai Highway was officially opened to traffic on September 21, 2014, the route to Lao Cai province in particular and northwest provinces in general has been significantly shortened. Lao Cai has one more impetus to promote economic and social development. Vietnam Business Forum Magazine has an interview with Mr. Doan Van Huong, Chairman of Lao Cai Provincial People's Committee, to learn more about the province’s efforts in the past year. Thuy Vu reports.
Could you share some social and economic results that Lao Cai province achieved in the past year?
The operation of Noi Bai - Lao Cai Highway has provided new potential and advantages for Lao Cai province in drawing investment resources to boost economic development and international trade. In 2014, all social and economic development criteria were achieved or exceeded. The GDP growth was over 14 per cent. Particularly, the industry and construction sectors expanded over 22 per cent; the service sector climbed 12 per cent; and agriculture, forestry and fisheries sectors augmented 6 per cent. GDP per capita reached VND33.5 million. Trade turnover was US$1.7 billion, 17.2 per cent higher than the plan. Budget collection exceeded VND5,000 billion, 4.2 per cent higher than the plan. The economic structure was positively changed, with an increasing proportion of industry, construction and services in the province’s GDP and a reducing proportion of agriculture, forestry and fisheries.
Last year, the province completed some key projects like Viet - Trung iron and steel mill, with the first-phase capacity of 500,000 tonnes a year, inaugurated on September 21, 2014; and DAP 2 plant with an annual production capacity of 330,000 tonnes. The province also prepared for inauguration of some major tourism service projects like 5-star Aristo Hotel with 428 rooms and 4-star PetroVietnam Sa Pa Hotel. The ongoing Fansipan cable car project is expected to be completed in April 2015. The inauguration of this cable car system is projected to double tourist arrivals to Lao Cai province in just two years.
Besides, the province achieved good results in social security, poverty reduction, education and employment. National defence and security was strengthened and social order and safety was guaranteed.
As a leading locality in attracting investment and creating a favourable business environment for enterprises and investors, did the province have any breakthroughs to further improve the investment and business environment and enhance provincial competitiveness index (PCI)?
Lao Cai Province is always aware that attracting domestic and foreign businesses and investors to invest and do business in the province plays a very important role in socioeconomic development. Based on the guideline and orientation of the Central Government and on actual local conditions, Lao Cai endeavoured to improve the business and investment environment. The province reviewed, amended and supplemented provisions relating to the creation of investment and business climate to ensure convenience for businesses and citizens. The province established the Business Support Office, affiliated to the Office of the Provincial People's Committee, to receive suggestions and proposals from the business community and directly report to provincial leaders immediately at the receipt of suggestions and proposals. The provincial government hosts annual meetings with major companies in the locality to inform and introduce new socioeconomic development orientations and listen to their opinions as well as their hardships to have the best solution for each specific case. Besides, advisory bodies hold meetings on tax, customs, banking, resources, environment and other issues with businesses.
So far, the province has 450 domestic investment projects with a total registered capital of VND56,478 billion and 2,579 companies in operation with a total registered capital of VND16,490 billion. It also has 30 foreign direct investment (FDI) projects with a total registered capital of US$518 million. The average disbursement value of FDI projects is over US$15 million a year.
In addition, to improve investment climate and support businesses, Lao Cai successfully developed a district competitiveness index (DCI). The province will announce the DCI index to collect businesses' feedback on the governance quality of local authorities. This will help district governments to make changes for better social and economic development.
Would you be kind enough to tell more about the DCI Index of Lao Cai province?
As I said above, with the objective of improving the healthy, fair investment environment, in 2014, the province deployed the DCI Index based on the frame of provincial competitiveness index (PCI) to enhance administration, creativity and dynamism of local authorities in supporting and accompanying enterprises. This is a new and unique idea in the country so far. The Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) expressed its special support and care for this index, while local governments were also very much interested in it. As this is a new idea and Lao Cai lacked instruments to gauge the administration capacity of district governments in improving the investment environment and support economic sectors. The province has faced certain difficulties, but it is determined to deploy this index.
What are key tasks Lao Cai province will carry out in 2015 and beyond?
In 2015 and subsequent years, Lao Cai province will be determined to realise some key tasks: Focusing resources on developing key economic sectors: processing industry, border trade and tourism in association with rapid growth and sustainable development; focusing on regional, national and international economic cooperation; promoting the efficiency of big projects like Noi Bai - Lao Cai Highway. In industry, the province will focus on exploiting and processing minerals of large reserves. It will give priority to developing transport infrastructure like Lao Cai - Sa Pa Highway, National Road 4E, National Road 279, railways, rural roads, and the future Lao Cai Airport. The province will step up investment promotion, with priority given to projects fitting its development orientation and planning to 2020, with a vision to 2030. Lao Cai province will also strengthen State management in investment while adding relevant regulations and speeding up administrative reform in order to make the investment and business environment, more favourable and friendlier to businesses. It will review and eradicate cumbersome, annoying administrative procedures.
Do you have any message to investors and businesses on the occasion of Lunar New Year 2015 - Year of Goat?
Lao Cai province always strongly supports businesses to invest and do business. It always puts the interests of investors on top, especially those having advanced technologies, having large-scale production, creating many jobs, raising incomes for the people, and paying taxes. The province is committed to providing the best incentives for investors. On the occasion of New Year, I would like to send best wishes to all investors.