Economic zones left deserted in Kon Tum, Binh Dinh
Despite huge investments worth billions of dong, the Bo Y international border gate in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum, and the Nhon Hoi economic zone in the Binh Dinh Province have been left deserted without any investors or operational projects.
Spanning more than 70,000 hectares, and consisting of three industrial parks, the Bo Y economic zone was expected to provide incentive for linkage and economic development between Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
However, 8 years after its establishment in 2003, the zone is still an abandoned site with only a few plants to process wood, cassava, and construction materials. There are scarcely any customers visiting the duty-free supermarket at this northern Central Highlands border gate.
Nguyen Trong Hao, head of the provincial management board of the economic zone, said 58 investment projects worth VND1.12 trillion (US$57.6 million) have been implemented to develop infrastructure for the zone.
However, he added, only 8 businesses have begun operations in Bo Y, with capital disbursement of only VND100 billion.
"Most of the operational projects are small, and require little capital," said Hao.
"We are still hoping to receive huge projects in the high-technology sector, and tSTC with FDI funding."
The duty-free trading policy at the border gate economic zone, which allows customers to buy no more than VND500,000 worth of tax-free goods, does not seem efficient in a locality like Kon Tum, wSTC economic development is not high, the provincial People's Committee said in a recent report.
Since the duty-free supermarkets fail to stimulate customers to purchase goods, investors are not interested in sending their money to the zone, the report said.
Consequently, the Bo Y border gate economic zone has experienced poor services and tourism development, it concluded.
The Kon Tum People's Committee also said that the annual funding of only VND240 billion from the state budget invested in the zone is too modest.
"We need nearly VND80 trillion for Bo Y's development in the 2011-2015 period."
Deserted economic zone
Similarly, the Nhon Hoi economic zone in Binh Dinh was also considered to be a bright sign of the development of the key economic area in central Vietnam, when it reached completion in 2007.
At that time, local authorities announced that the zone had inked memorandum of understanding with investors for a total sum of as much as $3.5 billion, to be flown into Nhon Hoi.
Yet over the last five years, not a single penny of the $3.5 billion has been disbursed.
Le Huu Loc, chair of the provincial People's Committee, said only two projects are expected to invest in Nhon Hoi this year.
Meanwhile, more than VND2 trillion has been sunk into the infrastructure development of the zone. The government also earmarked VND850 billion for site clearance and compensation, and to build roads to connect Nhon Hoi with local traffic system.
At present, the Nhon Hoi economic zone is still a desert, with titanium the only appealing factor to many investors.
Investors have scrambled to exploit the mineral in Nhon Hoi, and nearly exhausted the reserves, until last year when local authorities banned all titanium extractive activities at the zone. The economic zone has since returned to its abandoned state, and is dusted with sand on a daily basis.
Man Ngoc Ly, head of the zone's management board, said it costs them VND500 million a year only to clear the dust covering the zone, and maintaining the water sewage system.
"If there are no timely solutions for the dust problem, Nhon Hoi will continue to face difficulties in attracting investors," he admitted.
Tuoi Tre - February 29, 2012