VietNamNet Bridge – While the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI)
believes that it’s not the right time to apply the decentralization mechanism in
licensing foreign direct investment (FDI) projects, local authorities believe
that it is the mechanism which has helped Vietnam attract more FDI.
MPI, in its report presented at the national conference reviewing the 25-year
Foreign Investment Law implementation, pointed out a lot of existing problems in
the implementation of the decentralization mechanism.
MPI Deputy Minister Dao Quang Thu said the mechanism has been applied in a large
scale, without the consideration for the local authorities’ management ability,
staff qualification and the local economies’ scale.
Under the mechanism, foreign investors only need to contact local authorities
for obtaining the investment licenses instead of MPI. Local authorities’ power
is now so big that they can license multi-billion dollar projects without having
to ask for the permission from MPI.
However, with the limited qualification of the staff and the limited project
assessment capability, in many cases, local authorities cannot undertake their
works well. Especially, in order to compete with other localities to attract
investors, local authorities have spontaneously offered the investment
incentives which go beyond the frame incentives stipulated by the State.
MPI, while emphasizing the need to amend the currently applied mechanism to
tighten the control over the licensing the supervision over FDI projects, have
suggested that local authorities should not be given full powers to deal with
Under the suggested plan, MPI would report to the Prime Minister for his
approval for the projects capitalized over $100 million, the projects to be
implemented in the area belonging to two or more provinces, the projects which
use more than 5 hectares of urban land, or 50 hectares of other types of land.
The suggestion by MPI has raised the strong opposition from local authorities,
which can see that their powers would be restricted, while MPI’s power would be
Hai Phong City’s Mayor Duong Anh Dien said he does not think it’s necessary to
change the currently applied licensing procedure.
“Everything has been going smoothly since the day the decentralization mechanism
was brought into life. No need to make any changes for now,” he said.
Vice Mayor of HCM City Le Manh Ha has warned that the suggestion should not be
applied. “This would cause big changes to the policies. We would need to conduct
thorough surveys on the implementation of the decentralization mechanism, and
it’d be better not to make so sudden big changes,” Ha said.
Sharing the same view, Le Phuoc Thanh, Chair of Quang Nam province and Nguyen
Van Suu, Deputy Mayor of Hanoi, said it’s necessary to review the implementation
of the decentralization mechanism first, and then consult with local authorities
and investors before any changes are made.
Others have commented that if the MPI’s proposal is approved, Vietnam would make
a step back in the process of simplifying the administrative procedures.
Over the last 25 years, since Vietnam opened its door to foreign direct
investors with the foreign investment law, the country has attracted 14,095
projects with the total registered capital of $206.8 billion. Of the amount,
$97.4 billion, or 47 percent of the registered capital, has been disbursed.
State management agencies have noted the recovery in the FDI flow to Vietnam
after a period of decreasing. While the real estate sector always topped the
business fields attracting foreign investment in the previous years, it only
attracted $250 million worth of projects in the first quarter of 2013.
Compiled by C. V