Prof. Dr. Tran Ngoc Tho, Member, National Financial & Monetary Policy Advisory Council, University of Economics, Ho Chi Minh City
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.
Vietnamese Minister of Health Nguyen Thanh Long has asserted that Ho Chi Minh City must activate its COVID-19 prevention and control system at the highest level amidst rising risks.
Minister Long and Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh convened a meeting with Ho Chi Minh City authorities on Wednesday to discuss COVID-19 prevention and control measures in the current context.
During the event, Deputy PM Binh stressed that the southern metropolis had to ensure there would be no more community-based infection.
As the pandemic situation in Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia has become very serious, the risk of COVID-19 spread from illegal entry is extremely high, the deputy premier continued.
He requested Ho Chi Minh City to continue considering coronavirus prevention a key mission and not to let its guard down under any circumstances.
According to Minister Long, Ho Chi Minh City must activate its COVID-19 prevention and control system at the highest level, even higher than that in border provinces.
Aside from vaccination plans, all cases of illegal entry must be handled promptly, he stated.
Local authorities have to take assertive actions to suspend unnecessary crowded events and tighten supervision at entertainment facilities, restaurants, hotels, and other venues that attract a large crowd.
The city is required to maintain its COVID-19 testing capacity at 50,000 samples per day while reviewing medical equipment, protective gear, medicine, and emergency facilities.
“Preparations for the worst-case scenario must be made, while necessary measures must be ready to quarantine any suspected COVID-19 case, trace direct contacts, and prevent the virus from spreading into the community,” the health minister elaborated.
Local authorities must make sure there are sufficient quarantine facilities and prevent viral transmission within these venues, he added.
Vietnam has documented 2,865 COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon, with 2,516 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the Ministry of Health.
The country has gone over one month without detecting any community transmission, but the government has urged everyone to stay on high alert as the virus is taking a toll on neighboring countries.
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.
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.
Indoor sports facilities, wedding reception centers, and buffet restaurants across Ho Chi Minh City will be shuttered from 6:00 pm on Friday as authorities took stricter measures to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.
The municipal People’s Committees said in an announcement on Friday morning that the shutdown will be applied to all gyms, fitness centers, billiard halls, yoga classes and other types of indoor sports facilities; wedding reception centers; buffet restaurants; and diners serving food along with karaoke and singalong services.
Events and activities that attract more than 30 people in public places will also be banned.
Other services will remain open but strict COVID-19 prevention and control measures must be imposed.
Organizers of events and activities have to make sure participants keep a one-meter distance between each other, and the number of participants must not exceed 50 percent of the venue’s capacity.
Attendees have to wear face masks, have their body temperature measures, and sanitize their hands.
Authorities in the southern metropolis previously closed all karaoke parlors, bars, and discos from April 30, and massage parlors, saunas, cinemas, theaters, and online game centers from May 3.
The metropolis detected one community-based COVID-19 infection on April 29.
On Friday morning, the municipal health department reported a case where a man retested positive for COVID-19 following his treatment in southern Kien Giang Province.
An alley in District 3 where the man resides has been locked down.
Vietnam has recorded 3,091 coronavirus patients as of Friday afternoon, with 2,560 recoveries and 35 deaths, according to the health ministry.
The country has registered 121 local infections in over a dozen provinces and cities in this fourth wave that started on April 27.