More than 300 domestic and foreign businesses pledged to pour a total of VND24,677 billion into the Central Highlands while attending a regional investment promotion forum in Dak Lak province on September 5.

Leaders from Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Lam Dong and Dak Nong provinces handed over investment certificates worth VND8,528 billion to investors. They also signed an agreement with various economic groups, State corporations, businesses and banks to implement 30 investment projects totalling nearly VND16,150 billion in their localities. These projects mainly focus on infrastructure construction, paper production, power generation, rubber plantations, coffee processing, steel production, tourism and healthcare services.

In his opening speech, Minister of Public Security Le Hong Anh, who is head of the Steering Board for the Central Highlands, said that the region has great potential for socio-economic development, citing its abundant natural resources such as land and minerals, and breathtaking scenery for tourism. He also confirmed that the region holds a special position in the national economy and defence.

He noted that the Party and State have so far invested a great deal in the region to improve local people’s well-being and narrow the development gap with the lowland region. Thanks to intensive investment and efforts by local people, the Central Highlands has achieved an annual GDP growth rate of more than 10 percent in recent years.

“Such development has yet to match the region’s great potential,” said Mr Anh. “The purpose of this forum is to realise its potential to attract investment, develop the economy and improve people’s living conditions.”

It was reported at the forum that the Central Highlands has established commercial farming areas for key products such as coffee, rubber and pepper, while building basic technical infrastructure to serve its socio-economic development. It has gradually tapped its potential for developing hydro-power, mining and agro-forestry processing industries.

However, the region finds it hard to lure investors as its potential has not been fully tapped. Between 2001-2008, the region only attracted VND109,000 billion in combined investment capital, an equivalent to just 4 percent of the country’s total.

Mai Van Nam, deputy head of the Steering Committee for the Central Highlands, said the region considers investment promotion a driving force behind its development, especially for infrastructure construction.

“We will work closely with the five provinces and investors to increase the efficiency of investment in the region by continuing to accelerate administrative reform and create a favourable and healthy business environment in line with the international norm,” said Mr Nam.

He said that his steering board is working with the Ministry of Planning and Investment on a number of special incentives to be offered to investors. These proposals will be submitted to the PM and, if they are approved, they will turn the Central Highlands into an attractive investment destination.

Taking the floor, Deputy Prime Minister Truong Vinh Trong proclaimed the Central Highlands as a goldmine and called on domestic and foreign businesses to invest in the region for mutual benefit. He asked the five provinces to fulfil their commitments to investors and assured them that the government is willing to work closely with the provinces and investors to iron out any snags.

The five provinces introduced 120 projects with a combined investment capital of approximately VND100,000 billion (US$5 billion) to businesses at the forum. Lam Dong province topped the list, with projects valued at VND85,838 billion, followed by Dak Lak (VND5,153 billion), Kon Tum (VND4,761 billion), Dak Nong (VND2,134 billion) and Gia Lai (VND1,918 billion).

Source: VOV