For Lang Son province to become a key economic driver of the Northeast region, in recent years, the provincial government has carried out many solutions to enhance the investment and business climate and utilize maximum potential and advantages to draw more investors to the province.
Over the past years, Lang Son province has fully executed many solutions like issuing thematic resolutions on investment attraction; establishing project steering committees, accelerating site clearance to create a clean land fund for investors and contractors. The province has also concretized investment incentive policies; formulated, revised and supplemented plans and actions to shape a regulatory framework for construction investment projects. Since 2016, the Provincial People's Committee has approved, adjusted and supplemented seven sectoral plans, 12 land-use plans and 17 urban construction plans. Administrative procedure reform has produced positive results. The Provincial People's Committee has directed relevant bodies to minimize cumbersome, complicated, contradictory and overlapping administrative procedures that upset individuals and organizations in this work. Time is reduced by as much as 30% for procedures that previously needed three days or more to be settled.
With an increasingly favorable investment environment, Lang Son has attracted more and more projects in the past years. In 2020, the province granted investment licenses to 16 new projects - 15 domestic projects and one foreign-invested project - with a total registered capital of VND3,729 billion; and allowed 20 existing projects to add over VND170 billion to their registered investment fund. In 2016-2020, the province drew over VND66.792 trillion of investment capital from investors, accounting for 65% of total investment funds in the province. The Provincial People's Committee issued investment certificates to 110 projects with a total registered investment capital of VND20,328 billion. During this period, the provincial government also launched five Public-Private Partnership (PPP) projects with VND22,342 billion of investment capital and six investment projects established from land exchanged for VND8,147 billion. Dong Dang Border Gate Economic Zone of Lang Son province alone has 114 domestic direct investment (DDI) projects in effect with over VND20 trillion of registered investment capital and 20 foreign-invested projects with over US$207 million.
Up to now, Lang Son has become a favored destination for many large investors such as Sun Group, FLC Group, TMS Global Joint Stock Company, IDJ Vietnam Investment Joint Stock Company, and APEC Investment Joint Stock Company. Many major projects have been deployed by investors to create a strong boost to local socio-economic development, such as the Bac Giang - Lang Son Expressway, cargo transshipment site project, Diamond Park Urban Area of APEC Group; Hop Thanh 1 and 2 Industrial Complexes, Hop Thanh resettlement areas and many new urban projects in districts and Lang Son City.
Many solutions for stronger investment attraction
Mr. Nguyen Huu Chien, Director of Lang Son Department of Planning and Investment, said, in 2021, the province will continue to review and improve investment attraction mechanisms and policies; issue thematic resolutions on site clearance, a land fund formation for businesses and better planning quality, and strengthen the infrastructure construction. In particular, the province will focus on reforming administrative procedures, improving the investment and business environment, clear difficulties and obstacles confronting businesses seeking to boost production and business operations. Lang Son will increase dialogues with businesses and investors to grasp their aspirations, as well as feedback from the business community, investors and the public to have more practical information for building and announcing a quality-measuring gauge of administration reform and governance to enhance district/city competitiveness, as well as timely resolve difficulties and obstacles against enterprises to raise the overall Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI).
The province has also improved planning quality and efficiency, completed Lang Son City Planning for 2021-2030 and to 2050, land-use planning and urbanization planning. It has sped up the progress of planning industrial - urban - service development zones; studied and planned industrial, urban, commercial and service development along Bac Giang - Lang Son Expressway, Dong Dang (Lang Son) - Tra Linh (Cao Bang) Expressway, National Highway 4A, National Highway 4B, National Highway 1B; completed planning and attracted investors into 600-ha blueprint Huu Lung Industrial Park. It researched and formulated projects on developing concentrated tourism, service, trade and agricultural zones that help local socioeconomic development.
In addition, the province has renovated investment promotion, including methods, contents and forms, with a focus on electronic environment; introduced investment images, potential and opportunities; regularly updated information on investment policies in order to provide timely information to investors; maintained and expanded external and foreign investment promotion to attract partners and investors, especially from Japan, South Korea, the European Union (EU), ASEAN and China; and utilized international support and ODA funding for key traffic infrastructure, industrial infrastructure and infrastructure in disadvantaged areas.
Box: According to the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) report 2020 released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI), Lang Son province scored 62.43 points (7.82 points higher than in 2015), ranking No. 49 out of 63 provinces and cities (eight places higher than in 2015).
This result shows that the quality of improving the business investment environment of the province has significantly improved, reducing the score gap with the good performing provinces to 1.41 points, and with the best performers to 4.31 points. The infrastructure quality has also been drastically improved; informal costs continue to be reduced; business environment for private enterprises is becoming more and more equal; security and order are guaranteed. The administration is being changed in a positive direction.
In the coming time, to improve the investment and business environment and raise its PCI in 2021-2025, the province will focus on such solutions as informing public employees to have full understanding of PCI significance and importance; consider this as a source of reference information for measuring local governance; grasp reflections, opinions, feedback and expectations of enterprises about administrative service quality, especially at grassroots levels. The province will seek to change awareness, spirit and attitude of public employees to better serve people and businesses so as to gain higher PCI scores and rankings, as well as public and business satisfaction about the administrative apparatus.
Provincial and district-level agencies will seriously carry out contents and programs for better PCI performance. They will enhance management, determination and personal responsibility of agency leaders; reinforce the sense of responsibility and ethics of public employees working in the single-window divisions responsible for working with investment administrative procedures for local organizations and enterprises. Public employees will be replaced if they draw many complaints from people and businesses.
They will also promptly need to review and propose quickest solutions to deal with matters arising within their jurisdiction, propose to the Provincial People's Committee for a solution to policies that are no longer appropriate, unfeasible or obstructive to business operation and development.
By Nguyen Bach, Vietnam Business Forum