Phu Quoc needs special treatment
(VNS) Nguyen Phong Quang, deputy director of the south-western Region Steering Committee, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about the economic future of one of the nation's most beautiful islands.
Phu Quoc has been de-scribed as a pearl island – a Singapore of Viet Nam, but why has its development lagged behind expectations?
Though the government has given it many preferential policies for development, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment was assigned to develop various mechanisms to attract investment into the island, so far not much has happened there. Why? There remain many unresolved problems. For one, there is currently no land evaluation framework which can be accepted by investors; for another, there is a shortage of funds to invest in infrastructure development.
Another problem is that the island remains a district affiliated with Kien Giang Province. With that administrative status, they always have to consult the provincial authorities before making any big decision. That's why I say the island should be given a special mechanism to enable the authorities to stand on their own two feet.
What do you suggest to solve the existing bottle neck?
By the end of 2012, we will try to resolve four main issues, namely development planning, including the infrastructure of the Phu Quoc island; financial mechanisms including investment capital; human resource development and services and institutional system in the island. Of course, before submitting the proposals to the Prime Minister for approval, we'll conduct consultations with relevant agencies and experts.
Can you further explain in detail the priority given to each area?
In October, we will review the policies already in place to see if they are still appropriate. The next activity is to look at infrastructure development and work out measures to call for investment. We hope that by the end of December the rehabilitation of the Phu Quoc international airport will be completed, including roads connecting to the airport. Of course, we'll also review the land evaluation in order to come up with a price framework which is lucrative to investors.
In order to make the island become a destination for international travellers, we'll submit a proposal to the Party Politburo requesting it to issue a Resolution exclusively on the development of the island by 2020.
A road map to turn the island into a "special administrative and economic region affiliated to the Central Government" by 2020 has been developed. Do you support such a proposal?
I can't agree more. The island has all the necessary conditions to be given such a special status.
Regarding the opening of a casino on the island, I think it is feasible. The only thing we have to think carefully about is its scope and how to control its operation. We'll learn from the experience of other countries how to select the best option for a casino on Phu Quoc island and then submit our choice to the government to make a final decision. — VNS