Southeastern Viet Nam, which includes HCM City and six adjacent provinces, has not reached its full potential, Dr. Tran Du Lich of the National Assembly Economic Committee told the Nong thon ngay nay (Countryside Today) paper
How would you evaluate the economic development potential of the Southeast region?
Data proves that the Southeast region, with its geographical and socio-economic conditions fav-ourable to development, has become a key gateway connecting Viet Nam to the world.
The region currently makes up 38 per cent of the national GDP and contributes 60 per cent of the national budget. Its GDP per capita is 2.5 times higher than the national average and 2.5 times higher the Hong (Red) River Delta region, known for its superior infrastructure and dense urbanisation.
Six among the 13 localities that contribute the largest sums to the national budget are from the Southeastern region. All this proves the strength of the region.
For a region with such economic advantage and importance to national development, do you think current investment in the region equals its potential?
Southeastern Viet Nam probably attracts the most investment in the country. HCM City, Binh Duong and Dong Nai provinces are all centres of industry; 100 per cent of the land is put to use.
The region also has large sea ports such as Cai Mep-Thi Vai in Ba Ria Vung Tau Province and Cat Lai in HCM City, both with high densities of international trade and transportation.
Agriculture in the region is also well developed with large areas of industrial plants and husbandry zones. The animal food processing industry in the region is a leading development sector.
However, such achievements have only partially exploited the region's potential. I think there is still a vast amount of unexplored potential that needs more investment.
Let's take Cai Mep-Thi Vai Port as an example. It would have been a really larger port, capable of a higher density of international trade and transportation, if it had a better infrastructure system.
The port is still not as busy as the Cat Lai Port where trading and transportation are always overflowing and therefore trade sometimes even suffers from stagnation.
Why hasn't the region's potential been fully utilised when so many priority policies have been passed to encourage its development?
There are a many reasons, but a lack of co-operation and alliance between local economic partners has emerged as the biggest roadblock.
Provinces in the region singularly focus investment in their areas without looking to co-operate with their neighbors to make comprehensive plans for the whole region. A key economic zone in the South, for example, has its own steering board but a lack of co-ordination has really hindered its authoritative role in the implementation of the region's development plan.
A recent natural and environmental issue was raised when a master plan to fill up part of Dong Nai River was cancelled due to public and media objections. The issue, which is still unsolved, is proof of their incapacity to settle common regional issues even when a so-called steering committee for Dong Nai and the Sai Gon River has existed for a dozen years.
So what measures are needed to boost the region's development to turn it into a real pioneer of national economic development?
Economic partners in the region should be more co-operative when settling issues in the economic sectors of production, transportation, human resources, and environmental protection.
HCM City, should be considered "logistic areas" because of their abundance of finance, banking and vocational training services. HCM City could be a hub for accommodation, commuters and entertainment. This will help reduce the pressures caused by the high population density in the city.
More investment should go to provinces surrounding HMC City, like Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau, which should focus on developing their industrial zones. — VNS