Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Tho, Member, National Financial & Monetary Policy Advisory Council, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City
The 11th Congress of the HCM City Party Committee (2020-2025 tenure) has designed 26 development targets for the term across five areas, including the GRDP growing 8% on average annually, the digital economy contributing 25% to the GRDP by 2025 and 40% by 2030, the social labour productivity expanding 7% on average annually, and at least 95% of the people being satisfied with the service of state administrative agencies in each field.
To achieve these goals, HCM City has outlined four development programmes with dozens of specific projects. A significant programme to the city’s economic growth and development is the key programme for the development of businesses, innovative entrepreneurship and key products. This programme consists of 13 specific programmes and projects, such as programmes to support the development of enterprises and products in the areas of information technology and communications (ICT), mechanics and automation, and food processing in the period of 2020-2030; a project on developing HCM City into a regional and international financial centre; and support policies for the sharing economy, the digital economy and the circular economy between 2020-2025.
HCM City has also identified many groups of solutions in order to achieve the targets and tasks set out by the 11th Congress of the municipal Party Committee. Accordingly, the city will continue to renovate its economic growth model in a rapid and sustainable manner on the basis of science-technology application and development, with science-technology and innovation as the main driver of socio-economic and cultural development. In addition, administrative procedure reform will be accelerated with more practical and specific solutions.
Among the development tasks, becoming a regional and international financial centre is considered one of HCM City’s key goals in the near future, and is also a burning aspiration of the city for many years. This task has been included in the city’s 10-year socio-economic development strategy (2021-2030). In March 2021, the municipal People’s Committee submitted a document proposing the Prime Minister approve the city’s plan to develop a project on building a regional and international financial centre in the locality.
HCM City possesses many advantages to form and develop itself into a regional and international financial centre in the near future. First of all, in recent years, the city has been a “locomotive” and a main driver of Vietnam’s economy, contributing about 23% of the country’s GDP and about 27% of the national budget. On average, HCM City has attracted more than 33% of the total number of foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in Vietnam. The density of financial institutions in the city is the highest compared to other localities, while the total mobilised capital of local credit institutions accounts for 24% of the country’s total sum. Its total outstanding loans also account for 28% of that of the entire economy. Moreover, HCM City is the birthplace of Vietnam’s first stock market, with the total market capitalisation at the Ho Chi Minh City Stock Exchange accounting for more than 77% of the national total and 51.27% of the country’s GDP in 2020.
According to Chairman of the municipal People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong, the formation of a regional and international-level financial centre in HCM City will create a positive and pervasive effect for the southern region and the whole Vietnamese economy. Capital supply for the country’s development will be more plentiful when attracting more foreign financial institutions and international investment flows. Furthermore, the fact that the city becomes a regional and international financial centre will contribute to more effectively exploiting the economic potential of the southern key economic region and the country as a whole.
Towards the goal of becoming a regional and international financial centre, HCM City is aiming to become a national financial centre in the short term. In the medium term, the city aspires to become a regional financial centre with a large concentration scale, providing financial services for neighbouring countries and then expanding to countries in ASEAN and across Asia. In the long term, the financial centre in HCM City will become the destination of leading financial institutions and economic organisations in the region and the world. Prof. Dr. Su Dinh Thanh, Rector of the University of Economics HCM City, said that in order to become a regional and international financial centre, the city’s financial system should be developed synchronously. Accordingly, HCM City should focus on developing the system of financial, monetary, bond and stock markets; property management technology; and financial services; as well as strengthening the global network of financial technology and perfecting the monitoring system and financial regulations.
Many entrances leading to Ho Chi Minh City were crammed with vehicles on Sunday as travelers came back to the city one day early before the end of a four-day holiday.
Many returnees had thought that they should come back to the city on Sunday instead of Monday, the last day off, to avoid traffic congestion.
Salaried workers in Vietnam are entitled to four days off from Friday to celebrate Reunification Day (April 30) and International Workers’ Day (May 1).
The number of vehicles began to increase gradually on Sunday afternoon at the gateways to the city, keeping traffic police forces busy at important traffic points.
A prolonged jam formed on the Ly Thai To Street section in Dong Nai Province leading to the Cat Lai Ferry in Ho Chi Minh City at 4:30 pm, mainly in the automobile lane, with the line of stuck vehicles stretching more than one kilometer.
The same situation was observed at 5:30 pm on National Highway 1 in its section linking the Mekong Delta province of Long An with Ho Chi Minh City’s Binh Chanh District.
|This image shows vehicles crowding the Long Phuoc Toll Collection Station in Thu Duc City, Ho Chi Minh City on May 2, 2021. Photo: T.T.D. / Tuoi Tre|
Tran Minh Hiep, one of the returnees, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that he would not go to work on Monday but he opted to leave Bao Loc City of the Central Highlands province of Lam Dong for the southern metropolis sooner to avoid traffic jams.
Bao Loc Pass began to be packed with vehicles that moved at a snail’s pace at around Saturday noon, Hiep said.
“I started to enter the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at about 4:30 pm,” Hiep said.
“The first section of the expressway in Dau Giay was not stuck and the toll collection booth was operating normally.
|Despite an early return to Ho Chi Minh City, many people ended up in traffic congestion on National Highway 1 on May 2, 2021. Photo : Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
“But after I passed Long Thanh District, congestion started to happen, with vehicles moving very slowly.”
Sunday afternoon also saw slight congestion on the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, the National Highway 6 traffic patrol team reported.
Traffic officers, therefore, had to restrict the traffic flow from entering the highway from the Dong Nai Province direction until the handling of the incident was completed.
Meanwhile, the Cat Lai traffic police team assigned its units to be on duty around the clock in areas prone to congestion like expressway lead-ups and such streets as Mai Chi Tho, Luong Dinh Cua, and Dong Van Cong.
|This image shows a boy dozing on the handlebars of a motorbike on the way back to Ho Chi Minh City on May 2, 2021. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
In addition, the Cat Lai ferry area was also put under control by a large traffic police force.
Traffic police officers, in conjunction with other forces, also allocated a part of traffic flow from the expressway to the My Thuy intersection, Phu Huu roundabout, and the branch road leading to Do Xuan Hop Street in order to relieve the traffic load on the highway.
|This image shows holiday-goers on the way back to Ho Chi Minh city on May 2, 2021. Photo: Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
|Vehicles are seen moving slowly on the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at 6:15 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre|
|A traffic police officer on duty at a hot spot of traffic on National Highway 1 on May 2, 2021. Photo : Nhat Thinh / Tuoi Tre|
|This image shows traffic congestion on a section of National Highway 1 in Dong Nai Province, near the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, at 3:00 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Thach Ha / Tuoi Tre|
|A scene of traffic on the road section leading to the Ho Chi Minh City – Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway at 4:30 pm on May 2, 2021. Photo: Hoang An / Tuoi Tre|
The city sets target to become a hub of finance and trade in the Southeast Asia by 2030, marking its leading role in Vietnam’s digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
Forty-six years – a long time for a human life but just a blink in an eye for Nhan Huynh, a Vietnamese-American, as he has witnessed an impressive change in Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) since Vietnam liberated the South and reunited the nation, putting an end to the 30-year war, in 1975.
|A corner of Ho Chi Minh City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
Huynh, a businessperson usually travelling between the US and Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that HCMC, formerly known as Saigon, is his birthplace so wherever he goes, his heart still looks towards this city.
“I still remember… when the South was liberated for national reunification on April 30, 1975, local economy started to decline… many families had to eat cooked rice mixed with potatoes and cassava,” Huynh said.
Just a wink, after 46 years, the city has rapidly and strongly developed…everything has changed… people enjoy a full life with delicious foods, beautiful clothes and many other conveniences … not only me but also many Viet kieu [overseas Vietnamese people] across the world having aspired to invest in the city,” he said.
Tam Nguyen, a Vietnamese-Japanese who has been for many years doing business in HCMC, has expressed his absolute trust in the city’s development and wished to promote long-run projects in the city.
“I was not often here, I was always surprised whenever I came back HCMC, where has been developing fast and more beautiful day by day,” Tam said.
He said: “I am grateful for the city’s flexible policies in business registration, creating favorable conditions for young people to start a business, and for expatriates who wish to head to their homeland like me.”
After 46 years of the day of southern liberation for national reunification, HCMC today has risen to a modern city with many high-rise buildings and wide open roads, along with rich culture and progresses in economic growth, making a great pride for Vietnamese people, business community and Viet kieu as well.
Dr. Su Ngoc Khuong, a senior executive at Savills Vietnam, told Hanoitimes that on a 46-year journey between 1975 and 2021, HCMC has always maintained its role as a leader in promoting key economic development in the South and the whole country.
He said the city every year is in the list of localities with top GDP contribution and also the destination for billion-dollar investors and giant enterprises.
“In the period 2020-21, when the Covid-19 pandemic holds back the world’s economic growth, HCMC is still a solid fulcrum for the country’s development. And in the future, with the goal of building a knowledge-based economy with constant reform and innovation, the city is forecasted to reach further,” said Khuong.
Building a smart city is seen as a great progress of the HCMC after 46 years of liberation. After half a century of war and poverty, the southern city is urgently moving forward with huge plans of expansion and urban development, marking its determination to be one of the top cities in the world.
|The smart city will make a change in the living of local residents, helping them get access to modern services of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism. Photo: doimoisangtao.vn|
The smart city project has been carried out in HCMC since 2018 and will be realized by 2025. It will ensure the city’s economic growth moving towards knowledge-based economy and digital economy, and effective urban governance to improve the quality of living and working environment and enhance people’s participation in management.
As planned, the smart city will benefit local residents in the fields of health, food safety, environment, flood control, human resources, security, e-government and urbanism.
Nguyen Nam Hien, Deputy General of Hung Thinh Corp, said over the past years, the management and development of the smart city project have seen many positive changes. Urban space has been expanded along with increasing number of population. “People enjoy more conveniences of a modern city.”
Hien said after more than two years of implementing the smart city project, the HCMC has remarkably changed with many advanced technologies, which brought about positive results.
“The goal of turning HCMC to be a place with modern and civilized life has gradually come true,” Hien said.
Having benefited from the smart city project, Nguyen Thi Thao, a resident in the city’s District 8, told Hanoitimes that her living standard has been significantly improved as she is part of the Fourth Industrial resolution.
“With a smartphone connected to the Internet, I can pay electricity and water bills, get information about traffic jams and floods in the city. It helps me save a lot of time,” Thao said.
People can perform administrative procedures easily in the online form. It is really convenient, fast and modern … the city people’s life has never been better than today,” she said.
The city’s economic growth basing on high-tech and services has been rapidly developed in the city for years, especially after the HCMC Economic Forum 2018 (HEF 2018) themed “Fostering Interactive and Innovative Districts: The Prominent Role of Businesses”, which introduces the construction plan of the city’s Eastern part toward a creative urban model.
With support from leading experts in the world and Vietnam as well, the city has realized its sustainable goals, creating breakthrough reforms in economic development. Of the plan, Thu Duc is seen as the cradle of the digital transformation in the city.
On December 31, 2020, Thu Duc, a creative urban area in the Eastern part of HCMC officially became a city according to a decision issued by the National Assembly Standing Committee.
Thu Duc city, under the management of HCMC, is a development model dependent on the knowledge-based economy, in which it creates a driving force for the development of economy, education and health.
There is still a very far way for Thu Duc city to realize its goals comprehensively but it has appeared some prominent areas that can be seen as images of the HCMC’s economic development in the future. One of them is Saigon Hi-Tech Park, which is expected to be a powerful tractor for high-tech industries under the knowledge-based economy. By the end of last year, about 160 project had been granted investment registration certificates in the park.
|A worker at work in Saigon High-Tech Park in HCM City. Photo: kinhtedothi|
According to Nguyen Anh Thi, Head of the Saigon High-Tech Park’s Management Board, the board has set plan to reach nearly US$11 billion of investment capital by 2025, with an export value of about $30 billion per year, marking an annual increase of 10% on average. Meanwhile, the domestic value added in gross export is expected to gain 35%.
“We expect the domestic enterprises’ production value of high-tech products in the 2020-25 period will increase by at least two times compared with previous five years,” Thi said.
The Saigon Hi-Tech Park is also the first place of Vietnam to begin researching and producing Covid-19 vaccines. The vaccine has gone through several stages of testing and got close to being used publicly. “Its pioneering in the production of vaccine has helped Vietnam to be named in the group of countries that can be self-reliant in vaccines, ensuring health security for the nation in the future,” Thi said.
The 2020-25 period is a gear-up step for the city’s development. After the successful innovation of Thu Duc city, the municipal authorities are making best efforts to support business community with many open policies to develop key and competitive products as well as creating condition for local businesses to participate in the global supply chain.
The city will apply high-tech and innovation in production, focusing on investment in finance-banking service, tourism, trade, logistics and infrastructure planning as well as encouraging the production and export of high-tech products, software and digital products.
In this period, the city aims to maintain its key role in the economy in the South and the whole country, taking the lead in innovation and building a high-quality living for local people with a gross regional domestic product (GRDP) of US$8,500 per head on average by 2025.
It is expected to become a center of economy, finance, trade, science and technology and culture in the Southeast Asia by 2030, being a leader in digital economy and society with GRDP of $13,000 per head on average.
By 2045, the city will become an attractive destination in the world and an economic and financial hub of Asia. Local people will have a high quality living standard with GRDP of $37,700 per head on average.
Located at the end of a series of classrooms in Thu Duc City, which is under Ho Chi Minh City, a small class named The French Bakery has become home for many poor students with a desire for a better future.
Despite its small space, the class provides poor students with a valuable opportunity to secure a high-level professional skill: how to make bread.
The class, located inside the Thu Duc College of Technology, was launched with the aim of helping needy students live by themselves after finishing the training course.
“We are happy to find that the students have a passion and gain fundamental and professional knowledge in bread making from France just after being trained here for one year and a half,” said Hardiville Thi Thuy Van, country representative from the European Institute of Cooperation and Development (IECD).
“We also found that if the students are confident in communicating with others, they can make up their minds on their own.”
Choosing to be a laborer
It was 3:00 pm, six young students were squeezing white wheat flour on a big table made of stainless steel.
They were making croissants, one of the most popular types of French bread.
They are students taking part in a training course on making bread at The French Bakery.
The class, arranged in a modest space, is divided into two separate rooms equipped with modern appliances and baking tools.
All of these descriptions do not make the class differ from others.
The characteristic that makes it special is both its students and teachers are from poor families.
While most of them were born to families with many children, some of them are orphans.
They were not able to continue studying at a junior college or university because of poverty.
Tran Duy Thanh, 19, is a newcomer who enrolled in the class about three weeks ago.
During several months before being a student, Thanh was a delivery worker for a company to earn a meager income.
Thanh’s parents got divorced when he was just three years old.
He lived with his mother until she passed away unexpectedly from a heart attack.
The teenager has been left alone since then.
“I left school after completing the tenth grade to make a living as a laborer to help my mother,” Thanh told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
“When I was younger than 18 years old, I worked as a waiter in restaurants.
“Then I became a delivery worker when I was old enough for the job.”
Thanh heard of The French Bakery from one of his acquaintances.
“Despite not having any experience in making bread before, I wanted to try and secure a stable job,” he said.
Apart from the main instructor, Quentin Phillipe, a French baking expert, there are two other lecturers, Dinh Thi Truc Uyen, 25, and Nguyen Thi Nga, 24.
The two female instructors had previously ‘graduated’ from The French Bakery.
“My family has ten members, so I had to leave school after graduating from high school to work at home to help my parents,” Uyen recounted.
“Young women in my hometown — Dak Lak Province [in the Central Highlands] — often get married and have children if they cannot access higher education levels.”
That is why Uyen was excited to enroll in The French Bakery after being informed of the training course by an acquaintance.
“I was 21 years old then and felt puzzled at that time,” remembered Uyen. “I didn’t want to get married, as it was unsuitable for me then.”
Given her own difficult financial situation in the past, Uyen hopes to help as many people as possible, especially disadvantaged young people.
“I look forward to them being able to make a difference for their own life,” said Uyen.
A stable job
According to Trinh Van, a Vietnamese citizen who lives in France and serves as the information technology project manager for The French Bakery, which is technically a vocational school, the training course is meant to change an obsolete prejudice in Vietnam that considers bread making as an unstable job.
“Here, we show the students that being a baker can help them build a good future,” said Trinh Van.
“There are students who graduated from our school working at some famous bakeries, restaurants, and hotels everywhere.”
Students from three classes have graduated from The French Bakery since its launch in 2017.
The French Bakery has successfully trained nearly 40 students while around 20 others are taking the classes.
Among the graduates are some outstanding names like Hoa, who is now working for Maison Marou Bakery in Ho Chi Minh City; Thu, who is now a key employee at Bakes Saigon; and Khuong, who got a job at Fusion Resort on Phuc Quoc Island just after graduating from the school in February.
On top of working in a professional environment, the students will also have many chances to meet with foreign chefs, to acquire more knowledge of other sectors relating to baking such as hospitality and cuisine, according to Trinh Van.
Ngo Van Hoang Khuong, 26, told Tuoi Tre he is content with his job at the moment.
As an orphan, Khuong was adopted by a Vietnamese citizen living in France.
His parents took him to The French Bakery to learn to make loaves of bread.
He has become a skillful baker after studying very hard for one year and a half in the class.
“I got up at 2:30 am every day to prepare for bread making,” Khuong recalled.
“At The French Bakery, I was not only taught skills of making bread but trained in getting daily work organized so I can handle everything quickly.”
The French Bakery is a school with a mission to train young people living in impoverished conditions in making bread.
The initiative was jointly launched by the IECD and the Thu Duc College of Technology.
School students are provided with accommodations and have tuition and food covered for the one-and-half-year course of study.
Important aviation gateway
Director of the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) Dinh Viet Thang said that in the near future, the aviation market of Vietnam and ASEAN will become bustling and full of competition. The deregulation of fare regulations and charter flight restrictions have had a strong impact on the structure of air transport prices. Airlines can be flexible in setting rates, offering competitive rates, suitable for passenger segments, thereby improving operational capacity and boosting air transport growth in the region in general and in Vietnam in particular.With a market and a population of nearly 100 million with increasingly improved incomes, Vietnam continues to be a destination for investment, business and tourism for both foreign investors and tourists. Along with the deep integration of the Vietnamese economy with the regional and international economies, the Vietnamese aviation industry has seen many opportunities for growth and development.
In mid-December, the Centre for Asia Pacific Aviation (CAPA) gathered a range of statistics, the results showing that the Hanoi-HCMC route is the world’s second busiest in November after the Republic of Korea’s Jeju-Seoul. In the VNA flight network, the route was exploited right from the start of the airline, playing a particularly important role in the business of the VNA Group (including VNA and Pacific Airlines) as well as in serving the political, economic, cultural and tourist duties of Vietnam. With the strategic role and great demand for the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route, the VNA has constantly improved and continuously launched products and services on this route to increase its attractions and offer the best guest experience to passengers.
The airline has invested in developing a fleet of wide-body aircraft Asia-Pacific, the second largest in Southeast Asia with its two main aircraft lines Airbus A350 and Boeing 787. Of which, there are 14 Airbus A350s-900, 11 Boeing 787-9, three Boeing 787-10 ,serving the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city route and international routes to Europe and Australia. In addition, the airline also operates this route according to the strategy of developing a “dual-brand” to meet the diverse demands of customers with a wide range of diversified products, flexible flight schedules and types of services suitable to the requirements of all types of passengers. “This combination has contributed to consolidating the market share of the VNA Group, which has always beenmaintained at more than 50% onthis route as well as in the domestic market”, according to the VNA representative.
Raising service levels
By 2020, VNA’s passenger volume on the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh city route accounted for 25% of the total number of domestic passengers (on average, one out of every four VNA passengers took the Hanoi – Ho Chi Minh route). In April, 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic became very complicated, the number of passengers flying between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City decreased by only 15% over the same period; but in May, when the pandemic was brought under control, the number of passengers was restored to 100%. Currently, the VNA Group provides about 104,000 seats per week, transporting 92,000 passengers between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, equivalent to 98% of the same period last year and accounting for a 57% share of the total market.
In order to elevate the route to a core product in the domestic market, from July this year, VNA launched the identifier and the name “VNAXPRESS – Ho Chi Minh route” creating outstanding advantages. Accordingly, on average, VNA and Pacific Airlines make nearly 40 flights per day between Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City route with a frequency of 30 minutes to one hour, meeting the travel demands of passengers at all times. The departure times of the flights are arranged inround time frames (5 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 7 o’clock, etc.) spreadfrom 6 to 21 hours daily, making it easy for passengers to to plan their tickets.
The flights are enhanced with wide body aircraft with a journey time of 2 hours per flight, giving passengers the opportunity to regularly experience the most modern aircraft in the world. In the event of an early arrival at the airport, passengers may be invited to fly at an earlier departure time, if the flight has room, within 120 minutes of departure, even after passing the security screening area. Passengers are allowed to use the passenger boarding bridge, with their own check-in counters and boarding gates. The check-in counters are located near the security entrance to help passengers save time and enhancel convenience.
In addition, passengers also enjoy the full range of VNA’sservices at a 4-star international standard from ground to air. For the first time on this route, Economy Class passengers can enjoy a variety of new dishes, while Business Class passengers can choose from a variety of dishes from traditional to European flavors in three time frames: Breakfast, noon and evening. Passengers also experience the reading space of E-reader covering various topics in both the Vietnamese and English language.
Publications are regularly updated and supplemented to bring the latest information to passengers. “Putting into operation the electronic publication is part of VNA’s overall strategy to keep pace with global trends and become a digital airline while improving the quality of in-flight reading services, ensuring the health of passengers by limiting their exposure and contributing to reducing the amount of paper to protect the environment”, said the VNA’s leader.