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Southern region needs connections

Update: October, 24/2014 - 08:33
Employees produce wooden wardrobes at the Kaiser Wood Company in Binh Duong. The Southern Key Economic Zone, which includes Binh Duong, needs to improve links between provinces to maximise its potential. – VNA/VNS Photo Quach Lam

HCM CITY (VNS) — The Southern Key Economic Zone, which comprises HCM City and seven provinces, has succeeded in improving its infrastructure and economy since its establishment in 1998, but still needs to improve connections among provinces to exploit its competitive advantages.

The area, which includes the provinces of Binh Duong, Tay Ninh, Binh Phuoc, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Long An, Tien Giang and Dong Nai, accounts for only eight percent of the country's area, but produces 42 percent of national GDP and contributes 60 percent to the national budget.

The zone, the country's economic driving force, plays a leading role in international integration and economic cooperation.

The GDP growth rate in the region remained at 11 per cent annually between 2001 and 2010.

In 2000, annual per capita income in the region was VND11.4 million (US$542) and five years later rose to VND23 million (US$1,095). In 2010, it was VND48.6 million (US$2,314) and the following year, VND56.7 million (US$2,700), according to HCM City Institute for Development Studies.

Speaking at a workshop held yesterday at Viet Nam National University – HCM City, Le Vinh Tan, deputy head of Central Economic Commission, said the area needed better linkages and training for human resources.

He noted that the area, with 17 percent of the country's population, continues to have dynamic economic growth.

More effective linkages would help reduce infrastructure pressure in major urban centres, Phan Thanh Binh, director of Viet Nam National University – HCM City, said.

Rapid urbanisation

The high urban growth rate has contributed to the development of the economy but has also created challenges in delivering accessible housing and urban services.

Rapid growth has also led to natural resource depletion and environmental degradation.

Urban sprawl, the loss of agricultural land and the impact of climate change have all exacerbated urban development problems.

In such a context, regional planning and linkages are effective approaches and the key to ensuring optimal spatial allocation of socio-economic activities, and equal development between regions, according to experts.

Better land-use planning in the region would also help strengthen regional integration, maximise the efficiency of investments, and reduce the spatial footprints of regional growth.

Architect Ngo Quang Hung, deputy head of Southern Institute for Spatial Planning, predicted that by 2020 the urbanisation rate would be roughly 80 percent and by 2050, 90 percent.

During the three-day workshop, local and international experts will provide technical support for urban planning in HCM City and other provinces and cities in the Southern Key Economic Zone.

Binh said the workshop had been a great opportunity for officials to learn about urban and regional planning, and integration of land-use planning with public transportation. Local governance and financial resources for urban development were also discussed. — VNS

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