HCMC Party chief: The City must become Shanghai-style special economic zone

By Huu Cong, Dam Tuan   March 28, 2016 | 07:00 pm GMT+7

The Ho Chi Minh City's Party chief believes the city should be a special economic zone and have greater autonomy in order to take full advantage of its potential as an industry hub.

Secretary of the city’s People’s Committee, Dinh La Thang, made the comments at the 4th Convention to the 10th Ho Chi Minh City Executive Committee of the Communist Party on March 27.

“The city needs to establish a governance system on the basis of lessons drawn from other modern cities of the world," Thang said.

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Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee Secretary Dinh La Thang. Photo: VnExpress

According to the secretary, decades ago, when the city was known as Saigon, it was the benchmark for development for the likes of Singapore and Thailand. However, he said the city now lagged behind not only other metropolises in the region but also other Vietnamese provinces in terms of the Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI).

Thang added that the city was also notorious for crime, pollution and bad traffic. “Have we tried our best? What are we lacking? We meet the demographic requirements; our people are hard working, creative and stand by our traditions. We cannot accept not being number one." 

“Ho Chi Minh City needs to establish an innovative system that decentralizes decision making and regulation...to maximize its potential and advantages,” he said.

According to Thang, Ho Chi Minh City is different from other parts of the country, and so requires a different management approach compared to, for example, a rural province in the Central Highlands.

Thang suggested the city should have a metropolitan governance system with a separate municipal law like the Hanoi Capital Law. The Hanoi Capital Law gives it greater autonomy than other cities in terms of urban planning, finance, land use, science and technology, transportation, infrastructure development and security. 

The secretary also said Ho Chi Minh City would not become a more livable city unless crime was brought under control. He also pledged to expand the recently-launched hotline for people to raise issues with the city authorities.

In 2015, Ho Chi Minh City submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Planning and Investment seeking to establish special economic zones in four of its southern districts - District 7, Binh Chanh, Nha Be and Can Gio - where the maritime economy is a priority.