Vietnam grants land lease exemption to science center

By Pham Linh   April 9, 2021 | 07:00 pm GMT+7
Vietnam grants land lease exemption to science center
The International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE) in Binh Dinh Province, central Vietnam. Photo courtesy of ICISE.
Part of a science-education center founded by Vietnamese French physicist Tran Thanh Van in central Vietnam will be exempt from rent payments over a period of 10 years.

The exemption applies to an area of 17 hectares (42 acres) of the International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE) in the coastal town of Quy Nhon of central Binh Dinh Province from 2011 to 2020.

The center will also be freed from late rental payment fees in accordance with the land lease exemption.

The decision was made by the government in response to a proposal by the physicist.

Professor Van is a leading physicist at France's National Center for Scientific Research who founded Meeting Vietnam, an association for local and international scientists to collaborate and exchange expertise.

The association has been organizing international seminars in Quy Nhon since 2000 and became an annual event in 2011, with support from local authorities and Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology.

In 2008, Van chose Quy Nhon to build a center where Vietnamese and global scientists could gather for conferences and research to boost local exposure.

For procedures to invest in this project, Meeting Vietnam established a legal entity called ICISE Co. Ltd.

In August 2011, Binh Dinh authorities gave ICISE a land plot of more than 21 hectares in Quy Hoa Valley of Ghenh Rang Ward in Quy Nhon Town to build the center.

Of the plot, more than 4.3 hectares have been used to build hotels and restaurants, with ICISE having paid rent for 50 years.

The 17-hectare area will host an observatory, research facilities, and those serving international conferences and seminars, with Binh Dinh authorities having promised to a land lease exemption while the project was still on paper.

However, as the project was a first for Vietnam, the province had no authority to apply for exemption.

In 2013, the center was completed and put into use, though the land lease continued to remain a problem. By mid-2020, the center owed more than VND7 billion ($303,225) in land rental.

Given the situation, the Ministry of Science and Technology had last year proposed the prime minister to grant the exemption for the 17-hectare area over 50 years.

The ministry argued that ICISE served the development of science, education, and training and did not operate for profit. The center also contributed to Vietnam's scientific development, connecting the nation to the world.

However, the Ministry of Finance said ICISE operated as a company in the field of science and education and did not belong to the group exempted from all land use fees.

But then the center kept reporting losses, with a sum of VND16 billion in the 2011-2018 period.

To support the center, the Finance Ministry then asked the then Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to apply the exemption for the center in the period from 2011 to 2020 instead of 50 years as originally proposed.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc meets with Professor Tran Thanh Van (R) at the International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE) in Binh Dinh Province, 2019. Photo courtesy of ICISE.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc meets with Professor Tran Thanh Van (R) at the International Center for Interdisciplinary Science and Education (ICISE) in Binh Dinh Province, 2019. Photo courtesy of ICISE.

Tran Thanh Son, deputy director of ICISE, said: "We're really glad the PM had eventually agreed to exempt the land lease for the first 10 years, though the project still has 40 years more to go. We wish the government would make adjustments to existing regulations so the center could continue to operate without having to worry about money."

Such a move will not just help the center financially but will also show the government's support for scientific research, encouraging overseas Vietnamese scientists to contribute to the country's scientific development.

Professor Tran Thanh Van left Vietnam in 1953 when he was 16 to study in France.

His initial intention after graduating from high school was to become an engineer, but a meeting with professor Maurice Lévy, one of the founding fathers of atomic physics in France, influenced him to switch.

At the age of 27, he successfully defended his Ph.D. thesis on basic particle physics, pointing out the proton was not the smallest particle. Scientists later said it was the quark.

In 1958, Van started working at the French National Center for Scientific Research and received the Legion of Honor, or Ordre national de la Légion d'honneur, the highest French order of merit for military and civil personnel, in 1999.

 
 
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