2017 was the second consecutive year Hai Phong City chose the topic “Strengthening budgetary collection and spending discipline, improving business investment environment.” This shows the very high political will of the Party and the Government of Hai Phong City in carrying out legal solutions to enhance the performance of State apparatus and build a popular administration. These efforts have resulted in significant strides in enhancing its provincial competitiveness index (PCI), with its rankings jumping up seven places to 21st position out of 63 provinces and cities in 2016. An enabling business environment has significantly helped the city to achieve economic growth targets and especially investment attraction (the city drew nearly US$3 billion of foreign direct investment (FDI) in 2016, leading the nation). To have an overall overview of changes in the business environment in Hai Phong City, Vietnam Business Forum has an interview with Mr Le Trung Kien, Director of the Hai Phong Department of Planning and Investment.
It can be seen that the investment climate in Hai Phong City has positively progressed in recent years. Could you please tell more about the factors that make this headway?
First of all, it can be said that the improvement of the business investment environment has resulted from a long, constant and regular concern of the city over the years, not just recently. But, the city has introduced more consistent and effective solutions in 2016 and 2017.
Specifically, the city issued two plans: Plan No. 763/KH-UBND dated May 27, 2016 and Plan No. 962/KH-UBND dated June 28, 2016 to implement the Resolution No. 19/NQ-CP on business environment improvement and the Resolution No. 35/NQ-CP on business support and development. Accordingly, the city set specific tasks for departments, sectors and localities to follow and make quarterly reports on results to the Hai Phong City People’s Committee. Major tasks and solutions can be briefed as follows:
First, accelerating public administration reform towards transparency and publicity, minimising administrative procedures, building e-government, e-transactions, facilitating enterprises to reduce the time and cost.
Second, disclosing planning information, socioeconomic development planning; publicising construction planning, facilitating enterprises to quickly and conveniently access information, development policies and plans.
Third, strengthening training programmes to support enterprises to enhance their governance capacity and competitiveness in domestic and foreign markets to quickly advance international economic integration.
Fourth, maintaining monthly government - business dialogues in a bid to provide instructions and answers to existing mechanisms, timely removing difficulties against enterprises, creating a friendly environment and satisfaction of enterprises with State management agencies. Enterprises can register to participate and submit their petitions and feedbacks directly to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; shaping a healthy and fair investment and business environment for all enterprises.
To avoid the “good policy, bad action” reality, the Hai Phong City People's Committee clearly define the responsibility and accountability of unit and area leaders to the performance of assigned tasks relating to administrative procedure reform and investment environment improvement and to the performance of their subordinates. This is one of important criteria to assess the accomplishment of tasks of State employees.
With respect to investment field, we achieved important results: Shortening the time to issue enterprise registration certificates and business registration modification certificates to 2.69 days and 1.9 working days on average, respectively; strictly carrying out regulations on coordination of relevant State bodies responsible for administering enterprises after their establishment registration; standardising enterprise data in the National Database on Enterprise Registration, synchronising business operating status with database of tax authorities and other concerned agencies in order to boost business information transparency.
The city’s great efforts are recognised by the business community. In the 2016 VCCI business survey, Hai Phong City had a spectacular rise in the quality of economic governance, with its PCI score surpassing the 60-point threshold for the first time, to enter the group of localities with good governance quality. Overall, the city climbed seven places to secure the 21st position out of 63 provinces and cities in 2016.
How has the open business and investment environment affected the city’s investment and socioeconomic development performances?
The city’s efforts to build a pro-business government have not only opened up the business environment but also enabled it to attract better investment projects. Investment promotion activities are carried out in a professional manner, focusing on projects using advanced technologies, applying public-private-partnership investment models to infrastructure development in the city.
Specifically, in September 2016, Hai Phong set up the Investment, Trade and Tourism Promotion Centre to accelerate the reform of investment administrative procedures; better the investment and business environment; assist investors to deal with procedures and deploy projects in the city. With this centre coming into being, city leaders want to affirm to domestic and international business communities that Hai Phong City will create best services and conditions for businesses and investors.
In order to unlock its advantages of geographic location, Hai Phong City will continue to make use of available resources to improve infrastructure, especially transport infrastructure. Ha Noi - Hai Phong Highway and Cat Bi International Airport, once being operational, will make Hai Phong City a domestic and international trade hub. Currently, the city is focusing State funds for other key projects such as infrastructure projects in industrial zones, especially Dinh Vu - Cat Hai Economic Zone and Tan Vu - Lach Huyen important bridges.
With these comprehensive solutions, Hai Phong City has emerged to lead the nation in foreign investment value in 2016 with nearly US$3 billion. Many projects have big capital value and use cutting edge technologies, for example, LG Display with a US$1.5 billion project and LG Innotek with a US$550 million project. Not only foreign investors seeking opportunities in Hai Phong City, domestic private investors with powerful financial capacity and experience also flock into the coastal city like Vingroup. In general, Hai Phong City has been on the right track to sustainable development and green growth strategy.
These positive results and favourable factors have generated momentums for Hai Phong to affirm its position as the largest port city in northern Vietnam. In 2016, its gross regional domestic product (GRDP) increased by 11 per cent over 2015, 1.7 times higher than the national average. Its budget revenue was estimated at VND62,640.2 billion, including VND17,000 billion of domestic revenue, up 32 per cent year on year. Notably, in the first few months of 2017, some industries continued to advance strongly from a year ago, including industrial production, agriculture, animal husbandry, fishery, export and cargo throughput.