Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Many provinces and cities have licensed projects worth billions of US dollars through their investment forums this year. But experts say the key issue remains how to push these projects from the planning to the action stage.
Sixty-six projects worth nearly VNĐ169 trillion (US$7.2 billion) were granted investment registration certificates at an investment promotion conference in the central province of Quảng Bình on August 27-28.
Early this month, the Cần Thơ City People’s Committee awarded investment certificates for 10 projects with committed capital of about VNĐ8 trillion and inked co-operation agreements with other investors with total investment capital of VNĐ85 trillion.
Also at an investment conference in mid-June, Hà Nội successfully sought investment for 71 projects worth over VNĐ397.3 trillion (roughly $17 billion), of which 11 projects had foreign direct investment capital of VNĐ130 trillion ($5.4 billion).
Many investors committed investment capital of hundreds of million to billions of dollars, including a mega smart city project worth $4 billion in Đông Anh District, Hà Nội, with investment by joint venture between Vietnamese BRG Group and Japanese Sumitomo, and $600 million high-end complex Lotte Mall Hà Nội project.
At an investment conference in Bạc Liêu Province early this year, investors registered projects worth a total of VNĐ110 trillion, of which renewable energy development projects accounted for VNĐ81 trillion.
The most prominent project was the solar power plant invested by South Korean SY Panel Group with total investment of over VNĐ10.2 trillion ($450 million). This is the biggest solar energy project in Việt Nam so far with total capacity of 300MW.
Similar events in other provinces also recorded a large amount of committed investment capital such as Sóc Trăng ($5.4 billion), Thái Nguyên ($2 billion), Bình Phước (nearly $1 billion) and Tiền Giang ($685 million).
Projects on paper only?
At most investment forums, a lot of big projects have been signed but many projects are moving slowly and licences or permits are being revoked.
Earlier this year, Nghệ An had a meeting with investors and granted investment certificates for 26 projects worth over VNĐ13 trillion. After the meeting, the provincial leaders have pushed investors to start construction no later than June 20. However, apart from the $1-billion Hermaraj Industrial Park project, many projects still exist only on paper.
The province also has a billion-dollar slow-moving project, the Kobelco steel project, which was licensed in 2010. Construction on the first plant was slated to start in early 2011, but to date, this project has yet to be put into action.
According to Đậu Anh Tuấn, head of the Legal Department of the Việt Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the scramble for foreign investment in many provinces is still influenced by local authorities’ hope that they can trumpet success in attracting foreign dollars — meaning they’re less concerned with whether those dollars materialise into broken ground.
“In attracting investment, the role of the local authority is very enormous, if not the most important,” Tuấn said and suggested the provincial authority change the structure of investment promotion activities, focusing on the quality of projects and investors rather than massive large-scale projects.
Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc at the investment forum in Bình Phước this year also said: “Over $1 billion was signed at the event. That is impressive, but the licences must go into action. Do not let the projects and licences live only on paper.”
According to Phan Hữu Thắng, former director of the Foreign Investment Agency under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, after investors registered the project, the local authority has to scrutinise their real capability, as well as oversee the implementation process. Strong measures such as revoking licences are also necessary if the projects are slow moving. — VNS