Pham Xuan Thang, member of Vietnam’s Party Central Committee, Hai Duong Party Committee Secretary, and Chairman of Hai Duong People’s Council, shared with VIR’s Thanh Tan why he holds trust that the province can reach the set goals.
Hai Duong has seen great success, for example in organising the 17th Provincial Party Congress and containing the COVID-19 pandemic outbreaks in May. Does this prove that the province has a solid and stable base economically and socially?
The 17th Provincial Party Congress last October was a great success. Looking back over the past five years, the provincial management and people have inherited and brought forth long-lasting traditional values of unity, innovation, creativity, and determination to overcome challenges, and have posted prominent achievements.
The economy has been developing fairly, with the focus shifted towards industrialisation. The province’s budget and investment level are relatively good. Hai Duong has succeeded in self-balancing the local budget and made contributions to the central budget.
The election of deputies for the 15th National Assembly and Hai Duong People’s Council’s 2021-2026 term ended up safely and successfully even during COVID-19 outbreaks in the province. By managing the spread of the pandemic with minimal damage, considering we were caught by surprise at first, this demonstrates the values of awareness, responsibility, and unity of all staff members, party members, and all the citizens in cultivating the provincial development.
At the same time, this has also proven that Hai Duong has the capacity to control the pandemic and keep the economy growing, simultaneously ensuring the safety of people.
Where do you position Hai Duong in the national development course, as compared to other localities in the region?
It’s important to know where we stand among our peers, as it’s essential to plan our next steps. We can say that Hai Duong has a relatively large-scale economy, with 2020’s regional GDP of VND134 trillion ($5.82 billion), ranking 11th out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide, and fifth out of 11 localities in the Red River Delta.
However, due to the high population of around two million people, the average per capita income is only about VND70 million ($3,040) annually, lower than the national average. The average regional GDP of Hai Duong ranks 19th nationwide and seventh in the Red River Delta region.
We are on the right path when it comes to shifting the focus of the local economy. The share of the agro-forestry-fishery sector is lower than the national level, but only average in the region and is at the bottom in the northern key economic zone. Moreover, the share of the services sector is modest at 31.3 per cent, lower than the national average (45 per cent) and even the regional average (48 per cent).
Hai Duong is one of 16 localities making contributions to the central budget since 2017. However, we could only contribute 2 per cent of the budget, the lowest level among 16 localities. The provincial budget revenue surpassed VND20 trillion ($869.5 million) in 2020, ranking 15th nationally, and sixth out of 11 localities in the region.
Regarding the quality of economic governance and our effort to push up administrative reforms to create a conducive environment for economic development, the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) for 2020 averaged at 62.52 points, ranking medium at 47th out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide. This score was even lower than that of the neighbouring province of Hung Yen, in contrast to last year when Hai Duong was above Hung Yen.
The Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) score has also decreased by 2.93 points, to 42.81 points in 2020, and ranked 30th out of 63 cities and provinces of Vietnam, and 14th out of 16 localities with average-high scores nationally.
Hai Duong’s Public Administration Reform Index, meanwhile, has marked positive changes in the last two years. In 2019, it reached 80.94 points, moving up eight places and ranking 33rd out of 63 cities and provinces nationwide. In 2020, this index continued to improve and moved up three places, ranking 30/63.
Honestly speaking, the quality of economic governance and business environment of the province has been limited, proven by the low PCI ranking in the national tally. Our assessment of policy reforming is also just average. However, the governance efficiency and public services provision of management authorities at diverse levels, shown through the PAPI tool, was fairly good.
The Hai Duong Party Congress Resolution for 2020-2025 has set forth the development path for the province. How will this set the stage for achieving the visions towards 2030 and 2045?
The economy will be gearing towards green growth, digitalisation, and effectively availing of the potential and advantages to develop with ambitious goals: by 2025, we shall be a modern industrial province; and by 2030, we would be a locality with modern industry, laying the premises for Hai Duong to become a city under the direct management of the central government.
Our strategy for economic development towards 2030 consists of four pillars - high-tech industries and supporting industries; high-tech agriculture and organic agriculture; high-quality services; and green and smart urban areas, with high-tech industries being the focal points. There are also the three foundations of Hai Duong’s distinct people and culture, an inviting investment and business environment, and modern and seamless infrastructure.
Along with this, efforts will be made to turn the city of Hai Duong into the development hub, while Chi Linh city along with Kinh Mon and Binh Giang towns become urban nucleus centres. Three development axes will be the north-south axis, the east-west axis, and one along Thai Binh riverbank.
What’s the lodestar in realising Hai Duong’s development strategy in the forthcoming years?
We have one philosophy throughout promoting the desire to grow, to innovate, and to take advantage of our independence and unity of the management and the people of Hai Duong. We have to grow rapidly and sustainably with a focus on green development and digitalisation.
The people are the base of development, and science and technology will be our foundation and motivating force. We need to use all of our resources to develop our unique values, following the motto of green development and innovative reform to take Hai Duong forward.
Shifting towards rapid growth is our focus in order to take advantage of local potential, and as a consequence, we will be able to improve our productivity and effectiveness of the economy thanks to the digitalisation of the economy and also society.
At the same time, we need to develop more up-to-date infrastructure to effectively avail of our natural resources, mitigating pollution and curbing climate change and pandemic implications, while striving for sustainable development.
In parallel, we need to ensure efficient use of local advantages, including human resources, improving the investment environment to increase attraction both domestically and internationally. The private sector will have an important role in the overall economy.
Our philosophy focuses on rapid and sustainable growth with a green focus, and constantly improving people’s standards of living.
What is Hai Duong’s biggest goal for the future?
Our biggest ambition is to take a leap forward to be one of the strongest economies of the northern region, and to become a modern industrial locality by 2025, improving our status and position. Hai Duong will not accept being behind other municipalities of a similar background.
Our ambition is clearly shown in the resolution of the 17th Provincial Party Congress for the 2020-2025 term. Our overall goal for the next five years will be improving leadership quality, competitiveness, and efficiency in the operation of our political system; promoting democracy, people’s ambitions, and strength; pushing up innovation and the application of modern sciences and technologies; optimising the use of all available resources; and taking advantages of our ideal location and cultural heritage in order to grow both rapidly and sustainably.
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