|A stretch of Ho Chi Minh Road that cuts through Pleiku City in the Central Highlands is repaired. Authorities in the Central Highlands are urged to actively seek funds for infrastructure and socio-economic development projects in an attempt to modernise the region. — VNA/VNS Photo Sy Huynh
GIA LAI (VNS)— Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has urged authorities in the Central Highlands to actively seek domestic and international funding for road infrastructure and socio-economic development projects that would help modernise the region.
At a conference on investment and social welfare in the Central Highlands held yesterday in Gia Lai Province, Dung said improved road infrastructure was a key factor in helping the region grow in a sustainable manner.
"To ensure connectivity of seaports and airports as well as coastal central cities and nearby areas, large road projects should be the region's top priority," he said.
In particular, the region should focus on improving the Ho Chi Minh Road, the old National Road 14 that passes through the Central Highlands, and Road 19 that connects the region with Laos and Cambodia and central coastal provinces.
He also asked provincial authorities to upgrade expressways from Dau Giay T-junction to Da Lat and Pleiku to Quy Nhon, and to develop railways that connect the Central Highlands with the central coastal and southeastern regions.
In addition, Pleiku Airport in Gia Lai Province, Lien Khuong in Lam Dong and Buon Ma Thuot in Dak Lak, should also be expanded to help attract more investment to the Central Highlands.
Dung said, "the region's provinces need to work together to develop a socio-economic plan for the entire area."
Dung also urged them to more actively promote scientific studies, technology transfer, and high-quality human resources.
He pledged that the Government would continue to create improved policies and incentives for the Central Highlands region.
Dung noted that the Government had also asked the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV) and the Finance Ministry to work closely with Central Highlands provinces and others to help businesses reduce their inventories and have better access to loans at favourable interest rates.
To help spur development, the ministries of Planning and Investment and Agriculture and Rural Development as well as localities in the region would continue to develop key agricultural and forestry projects and create border economic zones with Laos and Cambodia.
Under the guidance and support of the SBV, commercial banks, corporations and businesses have signed credit contracts worth VND23 trillion (US$1.104 billion) to invest in key economic projects in the region.
At the event, the banks also offered social welfare funds of VND102.77 billion (over $493.61 million) to be used in the region this year.
Tran Viet Hung, deputy chief of the Central Highlands Steering Committee, said the conference would offer opportunities for each locality in the region to call for further investment, especially in coffee, rubber, pepper and other major projects.
According to Bui Quang Vinh, Minister of Planning and Investment, GDP growth of the Central Highlands reached 12 per cent in the 2010-12 period.
Last year, despite the global economic downturn, the region achieved a GDP growth of 11.8 per cent.
Since 2005, the region has attracted more than $192 million in official development assistance (ODA) in agriculture, poverty reduction, road infrastructure, education, healthcare, irrigation and power and water supply projects.
As of 2012, the region had disbursed $73 million of ODA, accounting for 38 per cent of the total amount received, Vinh said.
Since the first conference of this kind was held in 2009, registered investment capital in the region had reached more than VND90 trillion ($4.32 billion) with an average of VND30 trillion a year, compared with VND16.5 trillion a year before 2009.
As of the end of last month, the region had attracted more than 169 FDI projects with a total registered capital of $900 million, Vinh said, adding, "the figure is still modest and had yet to tap the potential of the region."
On the sidelines of the event, Yumiko Tamura, principal country specialist in Viet Nam for the Asian Development Bank (ADB), told Viet Nam News that foreign investors wanted to see an improved legal and regulatory framework from the central Government.
"As a whole, Viet Nam is a country that demonstrates very good potential in Asia. As long as the country offers a friendly business environment and a good regulatory framework, investors will come to the country," she said.
At the event, investment certificates worth nearly VND20 trillion ($960.61 million) were granted to 12 projects in the region. — VNS