Golf course plan must come up to par

May 31, 2011 | 14:14
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In light of the Ministry of Planning and Investment’s (MPI) recent proposals for Vietnam golf course development planning until 2020, former deputy chairman of the former State Committee for Cooperation and Investment (now the Ministry of Planning and Investment), Nguyen Mai tells VIR his views about how golf courses should be developed in a sustainable manner.
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The MPI recently suggested three scenarios for Vietnam golf course development planning until 2020 and showcased preference to the development planning with stable 118 golf courses until 2020. What are your comments?

Market signals and demand are essential in planning activities. The market demand is sometimes what could hardly be measured. I think there needs to be a ‘soft’ planning for golf course development with flexible guidelines. For instance, several locations such as Ho Chi Minh City, Dong Nai or Phu Quoc currently accommodating a number of golf courses should not be green-lighted to open more while those areas still housing a few golf courses and are in need of opening more should be given priority.

Will a plethora of golf courses in Vietnam eat into rice fields. How to balance a ‘soft’ golf course planning and the public’s concerns?

I particularly oppose to taking rice fields for golf courses as it will badly influence the country’s food security. The public may sometimes be misled. In fact, saying Vietnam currently has a glut of golf courses is inadequate. I think opening golf courses on uncultivated land is okay. We cannot block the growing demand for golf courses development. Bared hills and deserted land areas should be green-lighted to develop golf courses if proposed plans are proven feasible.

In fact, many golf course projects have combined with resorts and property trading. For instance, in northern Phu Tho province’s Tam Nong project golf course just covers an estimated 171.6 hectares out of a total project land of 2,069ha, or in Hanoi-based Tan Vien project the golf course area is 222ha out of 1,204ha. What is your comment?

That is a wrong. People have deliberately turned a luxury sport development orientation into property business. That was unfair. No country in the world goes this way. It is impossible to do property trading under the guise of operating a golf course.

Reality shows that investment efficiency remains low with simple golf courses trading. So what to do?

I don’t think so. It is inadequate to plead ineffective golf course business to operate property trading. Trading property is possible when it is separated from golf course business and incurs high taxes. Besides, it is necessary to survey actual profit rates of property trading, from there introducing suitable tax levels to moderate investors’ profit margins.

By Ha Nguyen

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