PM starts new year in poor southern province

January 03, 2017 - 06:00

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has chosen the two southern provinces of Bình Phước and Bình Dương among his first working visits of the new year.

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc (left) at a hi-tech agriculture centre in Bình Phước Province yesterday. - VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
Viet Nam News

BÌNH PHƯỚC - Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has chosen the two southern provinces of Bình Phước and Bình Dương among his first working visits of the new year.

In Bình Phước, Prime Minister Phúc yesterday broke ground for the construction of the Minh Tâm Cement Factory in Hớn Quản District.

Speaking at the ceremony, he highlighted the importance of the factory and praised business entrepreneurs for their decision to invest in this remote area. He also noted that the project will benefit from advanced technology imported from Germany.

The plant, with a total capacity of about 4-5 million tonnes per year and a total investment worth VNĐ12 trillion (US$527 million), was expected to produce thousands of jobs for local people and revenues for the local budget.

In his remarks, the PM also urged investors to use local land and water resources in the most effective and safe way in order to protect the natural environment of the region.

The project should strive for a long-term sustainable operation by focusing on protecting the environment rather than exploiting it for a short time.

Prime Minister Phúc stressed that environmental projection should be regarded as a key target beside the goal of socio-economic development. “The project will not help improve local life conditions if it causes a negative impact on the environment,” said Phúc.

Phúc also asked investors to complete the project within 18 and 24 months. He asked Bình Phước Province to create favourable conditions for the investors during construction and to ensure the safe relocation of local residents for the project’s land clearance.

Bình Phước is Việt Nam’s largest province but also one of its poorest in  the southeastern region. The province serves as a bridge to connect the region with the Tây Nguyên (Central Highlands) and areas bordering Cambodia. It three main products are rubber, pepper and cashew. 
Last year, a volatility of prices and a slow recovery from damages due to prolonged drought significantly impacted the growth of local agriculture. 
Speaking with provincial officials at the meeting, the Prime Minister pointed out that although the land of the province is fertile, and it has vast natural resources, per capita income in 2016 was just 42.1 million ($1,850), lower than the national average of VNĐ50 million ($2,190).
He urged the province to focus more on the development of smart agriculture. The province should mobilise all forces in expanding a smart model of vegetable growing in order to make prestigious export products branded as a representive of Việt Nam on the world market. 

On Sunday Phúc said at a working session with Bình Dương provincial leaders that the Government expected the province to become a strong driving force for the national and regional economy. 

In the future, Bình Dương should become a federal city and an industrial hub, a smart city and a leading investment destination, he said. 
The PM said he was impressed with Bình Dương’s speedy socio-economic growth. The province was one of the leading localities in administrative reform and one of the few having an effective administration centre. He lauded Bình Dương’s policy to promote immigrants’ contributions to local socio-economic development. 
He asked the province to address several shortcomings, saying Bình Dương has yet to fully tap its advantage as the gateway of HCM City to develop high quality service and support industries. 
Bình Dương’s provincial competitiveness index remains low at 25th, among 63 localities nationwide and fourth in the Southeastern region, he said.

The province needs more hi-tech firms and high-quality products and it should reduce the risk of environmental pollution, the PM advised. 
Bình Dương should also create “breakthroughs” in the business and investment environment, while improving the quality of human resources and fostering urban infrastructure links with the whole region, he added. 
Expressing his hope that the province will become a startup centre for the region and the country, the PM said it should have 50,000 enterprises by 2020, double the current number. 
The province should also boost the growth of support industries and encourage local firms to upgrade their technologies to protect the environment, he said. He asked local authorities to enhance administrative efficiency and submit a project on setting up a smart city. 
Re-established on January 1, 1997, Bình Dương is located in the southern key economic region. It has acquired the status of a leading industrial locality in the country and one of 13 highest localities in terms of budget collection. 
In 2016, the province’s total gross domestic product (GDP) grew 8.5 per cent, while its per capita income reached VNĐ108.6 million. Currently, industry makes up 63 per cent of the locality’s economic structure, followed by services at 23.5 per cent. Agriculture accounts for just 4.3 per cent of the local economy. 
Over the past five years, the industrial production index of Bình Dương has increased by 11 per cent each year. Its budget collection in 2016 exceeded the set target by 3 per cent to hit VNĐ40 trillion, a year on year rise of 9 per cent. 
Thanks to its improved investment environment, Bình Dương has attracted US$25.7 billion in foreign investment, with $2.4 billion in 2016 alone. So far, the province has built 28 industrial parks and 10 industrial clusters. 
Also on Sunday, PM Phúc attended a ceremony to mark 20 years of the province’s development, during which he presented it with the Independence Order, First Class. — VNS