High-tech park development needs more effective mechanisms

Wednesday, 2017-09-20 07:05:05
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High-tech complexes are expected to attract a large force of highly skilled technology engineers. (Credit: NDO/Nguyen Ninh)
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NDO – Hi-tech parks are considered important factors in facilitating the nation’s science and technology development. However, it is necessary to boost supportive mechanisms aimed at removing policy "knots" that hinder key national hi-tech parks to make them truly be locomotive for both national scientific and economic growth.

Decree No. 99/2003/NĐ-CP dated August 28, 2003 (Decree 99) promulgated the Regulation on Hi-Tech Parks, to create favourable conditions and a facilitative environment to promote science and technology development and economic growth. However, during the 14 years since the implementation of this decree, key national industrial parks face a lot of policy "knots" that urgently need to be removed.

The Hoa Lac case

Launched over 20 years ago, Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park covers a total land area of 1,586 ha, in Thach That and Quoc Oai districts, Hanoi, with eight major functional areas. It is expected to form an intelligent city model with highly developed science and technology.

Under the planned model of a science-smart city, Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park has 81 investment projects with a total registered capital of over VND66.1 trillion (US$2.9 billion) on a total area of 358 ha, of which 36 projects are in operation, with more than 12,000 people working and studying there.

Following Hoa Lac, Ho Chi Minh City and Da Nang’s Hi-Tech Parks were established in 2002 and 2010, respectively. These are the three major national projects in the national hi-tech park development strategy, fully invested in by the State, with the same vision and objectives set forth in Decree 99 and the 2008 Hi-Tech Law (amended and supplemented in 2014). However, many obstacles and inadequacies have been highlighted during the implementation.

The cause of the above inadequacies as stated by the Management Board of Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park is that Decree 99 remains unclear. During the implementation of the project, a range of obstacles were encountered through the complex legal system of the Law on Investment, the Law on Construction, the Land Law and other tax regulations, not to mention other differences in sub-law documents.

Furthermore, due to the different locations of the hi-tech parks, which are situated in dissimilar locales with different development levels, it is required that each park should have specific policies and guidelines to ensure effective implementation, alongside a general mechanism.

Specifically, Hoa Lac complex was launched with much anticipation but as it was a new model it took the Ministry of Science and Technology, acting as Hoa Lac’s management agency, the first few years to find out the direction of, and identify, the development goals, as well as seeking ways in which to realise them.

Right from the initial work of land clearance, there have been many obstacles and contents that have arisen between the Hoa Lac Management Board and the State agencies and local authorities. For a long time, the Board only had a few limited functions assigned to it, while the majority of other State management functions have been still carried out by other ministries, sectors, localities and specialised agencies of Hanoi.

During that period, amidst changes in Hanoi’s administrative boundaries, amendments to a lot of laws and many new policies have been issued, and there remains a lack of documents guiding the implementation of hi-tech park development policies. Tran Dac Trung, Director of Hoa Lac’s Investment Support Board, said that: "The main difficulty is the lack of specific guidance on the implementation of investment incentive policy. The principles applicable to investors are unspecific and inconsistent, making it less transparent in enforcement. The former incentive mechanisms are not really dominant in comparison with normal industrial zones, while investment projects in Hoa Lac must meet very high requirements. There is also a lack of favourable policies to attract high-level human resources to work in the complex."

The causes mentioned above have affected the site clearance work (as of early 2017, only 1,530 ha of land out of 1,586 ha has been allocated to investors, while compensation for site clearance was made on just 1,343 ha) , leading to the prolonged construction of infrastructure, which makes it difficult to attract investment.

The need for selecting the right solutions

Thanks to the unique policy mechanism recently approved by the Prime Minister, Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park is equipped with strong development opportunities to play a key role in attracting investment in the hi-tech field. Credit: NDO/Tran Hai)

In order to successfully develop hi-tech parks, it is necessary to learn from both success and failures from hi-tech complex construction models that have been implemented in foreign countries.

According to experts, up to now, there are thousands of hi-tech parks of various designs around the world. There is no uniform concept for the definition of hi-tech parks. The term "hi-tech zone" is used in many countries, and commonly refers to a variety of types, such as hi-tech parks, science park, technology incubator, hi-tech industrial park, and science city/technopolis.

In Vietnam, according to the master plans, when it comes to the finishing stage, Hoa Lac and Ho Chi Minh City Hi-Tech Parks are multi-functional economic-technical zones. In Clause 3, Article 2 of Decree 99, it is also stated that the hi-tech park has defined boundaries, established by the Prime Minister, for hi-tech research, development and application; hi-tech business incubation; human resource development and training; and manufacturing and trading of hi-tech products.

From practical requirements, to smash the difficulties for Hoa Lac, the Prime Minister recently issued Decree No. 74/2017/NÐ-CP (Decree 74) dated June 20, 2017 particularly regulating the specific mechanisms and policies for Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park alone.

Necessary mechanisms and policies are now available; it is urgent that, in order to achieve the set objectives for the development of hi-tech parks, the relevant ministries and sectors should seriously implement the direction presented by the Prime Minister during a recent working visit to Hoa Lac, in which the government leader urged the Ministries of Finance, Planning and Investment, and Science and Technology to attach significant importance to the development of Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park as a key project, while prioritising capital sources and regularly inspecting and supervising the project to promptly remove any obstacles for and encourage enterprises and scientists to make breakthroughs in science and technology.

Hanoi leaders also said that the city has a plan to coordinate with the Hoa Lac Management Board in order to complete site clearance, while adding more bus routes from the city centre to the hi-tech park, as well as investing in bus rapid transit and urban railway routes and establishing an urban area of approximately 3,000 ha in Hoa Lac area to connect with the campus of Vietnam National University-Hanoi.

On the other hand, the dynamism, creativity and serious implementation of the set missions and investment promotion efforts are also practical requirements set for Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park Management Board in particular, and the Management Boards of concerned hi-tech complexes nationwide in general, in addition to the related individuals, to create breakthroughs for the nation’s science and technology development.

Nearly 20 years ago, Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park was born with the mission of being the first hi-tech park in the country, but its development progress has been too slow and not as expected. So far, Decree 74 aimed at removing policy "knots", has come into effect and will once again create a launch pad for Hoa Lac. Hopefully, this will be an opportunity for the Hoa Lac Management Board to coordinate with other ministries, branches and local authorities to make strong commitments to attract investment and contribute to the realisation of a supportive and serving government.