As for the matter of social housing, Mr. Le Huu Nghia, CEO of real estate developer Le Thanh, said that they were considering whether to develop social housing again. Because of too many difficult procedures, many people advised him to play safe by switching to develop commercial real estate. At the Le Thanh Tan Kien social housing project in Binh Chanh District, although the HCMC People’s Committee had directly instructed to remove obstacles, after three years of implementing the project, now it backs to square one.
Although the regulation for the processing time of the application by authorities is 215 days, in fact, the processing of the application can take a lot longer than that because the application must be transferred between departments and districts. Even a document from the urban management office to the district People’s Committee takes several months. Moreover, although the social housing projects are invested by enterprises from start to finish, they are audited as projects using capital from the State budget. Meanwhile, the auditors are too strict. They slap them with high fines on petty mistakes, discouraging investors, Mr. Le Huu Nghia explained.
Le Thanh Company is one of 20 enterprises that have petitioned the city through the summary of HOREA. This list shows that many petitions had been raised by investors at meetings with the city leaders in the past years, but they kept repeating because they were not resolved, or resolved sluggishly.
For Novaland Group Corporation, out of a total of 14 problematic projects, only 4 projects were solved. Seven projects that have handed over houses to customers in Phu Nhuan District and have been facing obstacles in the past years, merely stay at the stage of “being actively considered and settled by the Department of Natural Resources and Environment and relevant departments”.
Entanglements at the Dragon City project in Nha Be District of Phu Long Real Estate Company have lasted for 16 years. In 2004, the company won the auction of 14 land plots with a total area of 44.49 hectares, which are clean land. The investor has fulfilled all financial obligations as prescribed, at the same time embarked on implementing the housing project as planned. However, one subdivision of the project still has a house that refuses to move, causing the company to be unable to deploy the rest of the project. Although the company has sent many petitions to the People’s Committee of HCMC, the People’s Committee of Nha Be District, and relevant authorities over the past years, so far, there has been no progress in compensation settlement.
The HOREA raised a hot issue that although the project does not include public land, the Department of Planning and Investment still requests the investor to supplement the documents many times. Up to now, the department has not submitted to the municipal People’s Committee for issuance of the decision on investment policy for the project, causing enterprises to face many difficulties. The representative of the Department of Planning and Investment explained in writing as follows: In the process of handling documents, the department does not require investors to amend and/or supplement their documents many times. However, in the case that after consulting the departments, if there is a request, the department will ask the investor for additional documents following the opinion of these agencies. The Department of Planning and Investment also suggests that in the future, if there is an unreasonable request for additional documents many times by the Department, the HOREA should inform the department so that it can respond promptly.
So for public land, which are roads, trails, canals scattered and interlaced in the projects, how will it be handled? The representative of the Department of Planning and Investment answered that the department can only review and process dossiers for investment policy approval after the Department of Natural Resources and Environment submits to the City People’s Committee to handle the issues related to the receiving of transfer, capital contribution, renting agricultural land use rights to implement projects and small land parcel managed by the State.
HCMC People’s Committee Chairman Nguyen Thanh Phong asked relevant agencies to focus on solving difficulties and speeding up the progress of real estate projects because the implementation was extremely slow. This delay is due to the inspection and auditing work. The city had had to work a lot, with the Government Inspector alone inspecting 164 projects. When being inspected, the projects must halt, affecting greatly the operation of enterprises. Besides, there are some projects related to public land, the city also had to stop.
“I understand that currently, real estate businesses are facing many difficulties. It costs a lot if the project is behind schedule, so departments must understand and share this,” Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong noted.
HCMC now has 13 million people. After five years, it will increase by 1 million people, so the pressure on technical and social infrastructure is tremendous. This is also a great potential for real estate enterprises. The real estate industry plays an important role and position and has a close relationship with many industries and many other markets, such as capital, labor, and construction materials. Since 2000, real estate is considered one of nine important service industry groups of HCMC. Up to now, out of 10,200 businesses with a capital of VND100 billion upwards, real estate enterprises account for 32 percent and 35 percent of the capital. Statistics also show that in the nine important service industries contributing 56.5 percent of the gross regional domestic product of HCMC, real estate accounts for 4.2 percent, contributing 8.2 percent to domestic revenue.
Mr. Nguyen Thanh Phong affirmed that removing difficulties for real estate is to remove difficulties for the economic development of the city. The city leader felt concerned after hearing that most real estate businesses have been encountering difficulties. He requested that based on the petitions of enterprises, Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee Le Hoa Binh should schedule to work with departments to resolve each issue and give specific conclusions. As for the 61 projects facing difficulties in investment procedures, the Director of the Department of Planning and Investment was assigned to study and report to the investment working group of the city. These works must be completed by April 15.
By Luong Thien, Tra Giang – Translated by Gia Bao