​Vietnam ministry seeks final assessment of $69bn plan to develop three special economic zones

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Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance is collecting final feedback on a proposed master plan to establish three special administrative and economic zones projected to carry an enormous total price tag of VND1,570 trillion (US$69.16 billion).

The solicited feedback will be transferred to a final assessment report which will then be submitted to the lawmaking National Assembly for final approval during its month-long fifth session in May.

Vietnam has plans to set up the Phu Quoc, Van Don, and Van Phong special economic and administrative zones, which will function as models for the Southeast Asian country on its quest to stimulate growth and lure foreign investment.

The Phu Quoc special administrative and economic zone will be developed on the namesake island off the southern province of Kien Giang, whereas the Van Don and Van Phong economic zones will be located in the northern province of Quang Ninh and the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, respectively.

Ships are seen at a transshipment port off Van Phong special economic and administrative zone in Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Ships are seen at a transshipment port off the Van Phong special economic and administrative zone in Khanh Hoa Province, south-central Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The administrations of the three affected provinces have developed their own establishment proposals, which are now awaiting assessment from the finance ministry.

Lawmakers are scheduled to pass a law allowing for these special administrative and economic zones during next month’s National Assembly sitting, paving the road needed to realize the plan.

According to the finance ministry, some VND270 trillion ($11.89 billion), expected to be funded equally by local budgets and foreign investment, is needed to develop the Van Don special zone alone.

The estimated investment for the Van Phong project is VND400 trillion ($17.62 billion), while Phu Quoc would need a whopping VND900 trillion ($39.65 billion), 59 percent of which would be domestically funded.

Incentives sought

Administrators of the three provinces are busy completing prep work for the projects, and at the same time calling for a number of incentives and preferential treatments for their respective facilities.

Phu Quoc, only an hour-long flight from Ho Chi Minh City, has so far attracted 377 investment projects collectively worth nearly $17 billion, according to Le Thi Minh Phung, deputy chairwoman of the Kien Giang administration.

Phung added that improving water supply and wastewater and solid waste treatment systems is among the urgent tasks necessary for completing the island’s infrastructure.

A worker is seen at the construction site of an airport at the Van Don special economic and administrative zone in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A worker is seen at the construction site of an airport at the Van Don special economic and administrative zone in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Van Phong project also requires infrastructure development, including nine new major roads, a 20km railway, and other amenities.

The Quang Ninh administration has sought permission to retain 100 percent of its budgeted revenue from the Van Don economic zone from its opening to 2030 to fund its reinvestment, while Khanh Hoa seeks to keep 100 percent of its export taxes and budgeted revenue generated from within the Van Phong zone.

For its part, Phu Quoc wants to host luxury ecotourism areas worth more than $300 million, as well as small-scale casinos.

The finance ministry has responded that requests to keep budgeted revenues may affect the national government’s revenues. 

It also disapproved of the casino proposal.

Vietnam stipulates that an investor must have at least $2 billion in registered capital to be able to open a casino.

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Nguồn: tuoitrenews.vn