Dong Thap is one of the localities that has suffered devastating impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic. What were the consequences of the outbreak?
|Chairman of Dong Thap People’s Committee Pham Thien Nghia |
The resurgence of the pandemic and its swift spread across the province and local industrial zones (IZs) and clusters (ICs) disrupted production and business heavily. Scores of businesses had to either suspend production or curtail production scale while others had to suspend operations or even go bust.
In the first eight months of 2021, total industrial production value in Dong Thap dropped 9 per cent on-year to VND43.5 trillion ($1.89 billion) and the industrial production index shed 10.9 per cent on-year. Nearly 140 businesses have been dissolved, 30 per cent less than a year ago, while 184 suspended operations, which is 20 per cent more. Around 112 companies resumed operations, 77 per cent more than last year, pushing up the number of operating businesses in the province to about 4,330.
The agricultural sector, the fulcrum of the local economy, has also been struggling, particularly during harvests and finding consumption markets.
Only about 100 of the more than 4,000 businesses could sustain operations in the province. In trading, only businesses providing essential goods could stay open, whereas the construction sector was almost completely frozen. Most economic sectors have been impacted, so our growth has not been better so far this year than last year.
What measures will Dong Thap apply to resume production and help businesses remove impediments?
Dong Thap has decided to gradually adapt and coexist with the pandemic. Therefore, aside from implementing the government’s dual target of pandemic containment and economic development, the province has established a committee to study pandemic impacts and pen out scenarios on containment and recovery in 2021 and the next five years.
According to the two scenarios, Dong Thap will grow at 2.5-3.5 per cent this year. The province will focus on ensuring successful agricultural production, particularly rice, along with expanding cereals, ornamental trees, and orchard plantations. We will also support the consumption of agricultural products during the pandemic and take measures to restore the animal husbandry sector. Last but not least, the province will help to tackle mounting seafood stockpiles at aquacultural areas and catfish processing facilities.
Efforts are also taken to increase the number of businesses resuming operation from 150 to 300 under the stay-at-work scheme, increasing the factories’ capacity to 50-65 per cent. Particularly, the province supports 150 businesses operating at 50 per cent of their capacity to implement the stay-at-work scheme to boost production capacity, as well as helping suspended ones in the past three months to gradually resume. Some 14 new projects will also be supported to put into operation at the soonest time.
Dong Thap Economic Zones Management Authority and the people’s committees of districts and cities need to review COVID-19 vaccination plans to prioritise workers at local IZs and ICs, especially at those producing or trading key products.
In addition, efforts are being made to help local businesses and trading households strengthen business on e-commerce platforms to best avail of supply chain advantages. Resuming the operation of traditional markets when conditions allow is also a priority, along with promoting export activities.
Another important task is accelerating the programme on building new rural areas, employment creation, and poverty reduction to ensure social wellbeing.
|Solutions are being put into effect to push up reforms and curtail expenses |
The pandemic has slowed down the disbursement of public investment in Dong Thap. What measures has the province taken to quicken the pace?
Disbursement results are lower than projected, but still 1.2 per cent higher compared to one year ago.
To quicken the pace, Dong Thap People’s Committee has asked the people’s committees of districts and cities to maintain projects in the development pipeline, allowing projects in pandemic-safe areas to resume operation under the stay-at-work model.
The construction sector needs to adapt to the new pandemic situation to resume operations by following Document No.44/PA-UBNH dated September 6 from Dong Thap People’s Committee. They will also need to team up with relevant management agencies and localities so that at least 95 per cent of public investment can be disbursed and key transport works can be completed.
In parallel to supporting the business community to weather the storm, attracting new investment to kickstart development is crucial. How has investment attraction and business development in the province been progressing?
As local resources are still limited, attracting private capital for investment and development, particularly from businesses and international cooperation projects, has been high on the province’s agenda.
In the current context, Dong Thap urges the sectors, branches, and the people’s committees at districts and cities to closely implement the tasks and measures set out in the government’s Resolution No.02/NQ-CP to push up administrative reforms, improve the investment and business climate, curtail business expenses, as well as bolster cooperation efficiency in realising policies to support businesses, co-operatives, and trading households.
Businesses have been encouraged to take part in trade fairs and join online commercial channels deployed by foreign organisations to boost exports and find new markets in addition to their traditional markets.
Efforts have also been taken to promote domestic trade, focusing on programmes to bring local products into major distribution channels. Investors have also been supported in project deployment and the province has also taken the initiative to lure in investors from Vietnam’s long-time partners and those having signed free trade agreements with Vietnam.
Moving forward, priority has been given to ensure the quick and seamless implementation of policies on supporting labourers and employers facing difficulties due to COVID-19, such as rescheduling loans, reducing interest rates, electricity bills, and taxes, among others.
Dong Thap People’s Committee is asking the government to support it in accessing vaccine sources for local businesses; tacking rising logistics costs; devising longer-term support policies for loan rescheduling and agricultural product consumption, especially to support local businesses to restore herds and expand the warehouse system to maintain agro-forestry-fishery production chains.