Ten solutions to improve efficiency of investment environment in HCMC

Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, Member of the Party Central Committee, Deputy Secretary of the City Party Committee, Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, on March 19, chaired a conference to preliminarily summarize the activities of the working group on investment and collect opinion on the plan to improve the investment environment in 2021, with the attendance of Vice Chairman of the People's Committee of HCMC Le Hoa Binh and 15 enterprises from various sectors.
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, discusses with delegates at the conference. (Photo: SGGP)
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong, Chairman of the People's Committee of Ho Chi Minh City, discusses with delegates at the conference. (Photo: SGGP)

Stepping up administrative reform

Speaking at the conference, Mr. Le Hoa Binh said that the theme for the year 2021 of the city is "Building an urban administration and improving investment environment". At the same time, to successfully realize the dual goal of controlling the Covid-19 pandemic well along with economic recovery and development, the city has put forward 10 solutions.

Specifically, the city will promote administrative procedure reform. Accordingly, it will publicize and ensure transparency of the handling process at all agencies and units, as well as documents related to the planning and schemes of the city.

The city will focus on improving coordination efficiency among agencies in the city. It will promulgate coordination mechanisms among departments and agencies in selecting investors, settling bidding procedures, selecting investors for projects using land, and receiving non-refundable aids. It will also continue to strengthen inspection after licensing, along with speeding up the construction progress of the logistics industry and carrying out the export development project.

As for access to land resources, the city will publicize and make transparent the planning, plans on land use, and unused land funds in the city. It will set land prices close to the market reality, along with building programs and policies to attract investment in urban development and housing, prioritizing the development of large-scale urban areas of over 10 hectares with smart technology application and synchronous technical and social infrastructure.

HCMC will also focus on digital transformation and technology, continuing the city's digital transformation program and boosting e-commerce. Regarding public investment, the city will promulgate the implementation process of investment projects in the form of build - transfer - lease or build - lease - transfer for waste incineration projects, waste and wastewater treatment, or projects in the form of public-private partnership. At the same time, it will promote online bidding.

The remaining solutions focus on planning and construction solutions, improving the quality of human resource training, accessing financial resources, improving legal institutions and overcoming negative impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, supporting enterprises in maintaining and restoring production and business, and regaining growth momentum for the city.

Bottlenecks identified correctly

Commenting on these solutions, most enterprises participating in the conference said that the city had correctly identified the bottlenecks and what needs to be done. Mr. Nicolas Audier, Chairman of the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam, said that administrative procedures are quite complicated and involve many departments of the city, so the application for investment and construction permits is often prolonged. Especially, for the land fund, it is difficult for enterprises to find a large land fund, especially in the Saigon Hi-Tech Park.

The representative of the American Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam added that US enterprises are willing to invest heavily in Vietnam in general and Ho Chi Minh City in particular. However, the city needs to simplify administrative procedures and investment licensing process, especially in Thu Duc city. Besides, it is necessary to invest more in port infrastructure, logistics, waste and wastewater treatment facilities. For the land-use plan, it is necessary to be more transparent so that enterprises can easily access the land fund. It is essential to develop soft skills for students at universities. Meanwhile, the representative of Intel Corporation said that besides the new policies to attract new investments, it is necessary to have policies to support enterprises that have already made investments for them to continue to expand their investment.

Mr. Hirai Shinji, Chief Representative of Japan External Trade Organization in HCMC, said that the investment environment in HCMC would be more attractive if taking into account its connectivity with surrounding provinces and cities. Currently, in the eyes of investors, HCMC is "an octagon diamond", because it only takes more than two hours from the city center to neighboring provinces, namely Binh Duong, Dong Nai, Long An, Binh Phuoc, and Vinh Long. However, the city should propose the Government to speeding up the construction of highways connecting the city to neighboring provinces.

From the perspective of domestic enterprises, Mr. Tran Viet Anh, Vice Chairman of HCMC Union of Business Association, said that the city needs to build business data in the last 5-10 years, which will allow the city to better grasp the internal resources of enterprises, thereby, building appropriate policies to encourage and support enterprises to transform production towards high technology.

Speaking at the conference, Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong expressed his appreciation for the opinions of enterprises and said that the city would hold two meetings to receive more opinions from domestic and foreign enterprises. Regarding the proposal to establish a startup center of the Vietnam Young Entrepreneurs Association, he asked for a specific project for the city to consider. As for the investment land fund, the city ordered the Saigon High-Tech Park to review and consider projects that have been investing and will invest here. Accordingly, enterprises with new investments and reinvestments must comply with regulations on high-tech investment, and reduce labor intensity and land funds. The city is willing to support enterprises to develop and expand investment scale.

Mr. Phong directed the Department of Home Affairs to urgently advise the city to consolidate members of the investment working group and the Regulations to amend and supplement activities of the investment working group and submit it to the municipal People's Committee before May 4. The Department of Planning and Investment must check the difficulties and problems of the projects, especially the key projects so that the city can have quick solutions. Besides, for the solutions to improve the investment environment, it is necessary to add regulation that if enterprises send documents but for more than 15 working days, the consulting agencies do not respond in writing, they will be seen as having agreed and must be responsible for the relevant contents.

The inspection and checking must not exceed once a year and must combine interdisciplinary inspection and checking of many contents in one inspection, except for unexpected cases when there are clear signs of law violations. The applications of enterprises must be handled immediately. In case that authorities violate regulations, the city will have drastic and thorough handling solutions.