Preparations to establish an official “economic zone” on tourism-haven Phu Quoc Island on the lines of Hong Kong were discussed at an August 13 meeting of the Communist Party’s Economic Commission and Mekong Delta provincial authorities.
Following a decision signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in May, Kien Giang province will establish the Phu Quoc administrative economic zone, which is expected to open in 2020.
The province finished the draft plan for the project in late July, Tuoi Tre(Youth) newspaper quoted Van Ha Phong, an official from Phu Quoc Town, as saying. Phong added that they were also working on a plan to upgrade the island town into the capital city of Kien Giang Province by 2015.
According to the draft plan, the Phu Quoc economic zone will contain all of the 59,305-hectare (145,792-acre) island town along with its continental shelf on the south-west side, which belongs to Vietnam following international conventions.
It will be an administrative unit which stands at the same level as a city directly under the central government with ten wards and communes.
The economic zone will be granted certain privileges in terms of tax and investments.
For its first ten years of operations, the economic zone is allowed to keep a hundred percent of its income to invest in its own infrastructure besides other priority funding from the central budget.
It will have the right to issue government bonds, project bonds, and using other methods of raising capital with more preferential incentives than current regulations.
Domestic and foreign investors will enjoy preferential taxes and the simplest procedures when investing in the economic zone.
Nguyen Xuan Cuong, deputy head of the Central Department of Economics, told Tuoi Tre that establishing administrative economic zones has now become a global trend, even a developed country like Japan also considers economic zones a way to resolve the deadlocks of the traditional economy.
“We are planning to build the Phu Quoc economic zone when our economy has not yet recovered after crisis and when other countries in the region are also racing to establish their own economic zones. Our policies and ideas around building the project, therefore, must be competitive at the region level,” he was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
He also said the plan must develop all of the strong points of Phu Quoc island that cannot be found other places.
So far, some major works on the island town have been finished, said Phu Quoc official Van Ha Phong.
They include the Phu Quoc International Airport, which opened late last year with the capacity to serve big aircrafts like Boeing 767, Boeing 747-400 and around 2.5 – 3 million passengers per year.
The An Thoi International Seaport and the domestic ports Duong Dong and Bai Thom have also been finished. The major transport axis connecting the island’s northern and southern sections is currently under construction.
The island’s authorities are also working to finish construction of a waste treatment plant with a capacity of 500 tons per day this September.
The undersea electric cable from Kien Giang’s Ha Tien town to Phu Quoc island is scheduled for completion in 2014 to provide electricity to the island, where diesel generators now supply much of the power.