ODA to help Yen Bai cultivate big returns

15:08 | 12/12/2012
Northern mountainous Yen Bai province expects to become the recipient of VND500 billion ($24 million) in official development assistance (ODA) capital in 2013 to better tap its potential and fuel social and economic development.

The province, home to more than 750,000 people from 30 ethnic groups, sits in the centre of the northern highlands and mid-land areas, and in part of the robust Kunming-Lao Cai-Yen Bai-Hanoi-Haiphong economic corridor.

Yen Bai’s terrain provides considerable potential for the development of wood and forest items processing. Tea has grown into the province’s key cash crop with a rosy export potential. Cinnamon is also a key item.    

The province is also home to huge mineral deposits with 257 mining spots identified for industrial development. With scenic destinations such as the l Thac Ba Lake tourism site, Suoi Giang perennial tea area, Khai Trung green plateau, hot springs and many historical sites,  Yen Bai has charmed many visitors.

In respect to industrial zone (IZ) development, plans for 2010-2015 period envision five IZs covering 1,182 hectares in total area and 19 industrial clusters and craft production complexes over 1,100ha.

Provincial authorities regard ODA capital as one of essential factors for executing management development commitments in the near future.

Yen Bai is currently home to 26 ODA-funded projects and programmes, of which 11 are locally governed and 15 are centrally controlled. Total committed capital in 2012 is estimated at VND422 billion ($20.3 million) of which ODA amounts to VND278 billion ($13.3 million) and Vietnamese reciprocal capital $164 billion ($7.8 million). Disbursed capital is estimated at VND414 billion ($20 million) with VND250 billion ($12 million)  in ODA capital and VND164 billion ($7.88 million) in reciprocal capital.

The capital infusions came from the  World Bank for poverty reduction, the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) for upgrading road in Tram Tau district, and Korea’s Import Export Bank for Yen Bai General Hospital.  

 In 2012, the province succeeded in attracting ODA to expedite two important projects. One involves bettering grassroots-based health facilities. The first project (2012-2013) was funded by the US’ Atlantic Philanthropies (A/P) with $5 million committed capital, half of which was grant.

The project targets building 33 new medical stations in diverse provincial towns and districts aiming at improving medicla services at the grassroots level.

The second project involves building over a 3.5-kilometre access road linking national highway 70 to Phu Thinh communal centre in Yen Binh district sourcing VND27.7 billion ($1.3 million) from the JICA credit programme.

However, since most of ODA-funded projects take place in poor areas with difficulties in travel and communications, efforts to oversee ODA- and non-governmental organization (NGO)-funded project implementation has exposed shortcomings. Violations  were detected in handling recipient procedures. Besides, Yen Bai still lacks capable officials working to charm investors to the province.  

Prioritised investment areas calling for ODA capital in the coming period will be agro-forestry, transport infrastructure development, national power network’s infrastructure investment, trade-services, culture and environment-natural disaster mitigation.

In respect to agro-forestry, ODA capital will be directed into implementing projects and programmes striving to boost quality and production output.

Investment will be pumped into building essential transport infrastructure in rural areas, growing forests, building irrigation, water pumping and sewerage systems. Estimated investment will be VND1.240 trillion ($59.6 million) with around VND1.080 trillion ($52 million) for 2011-2015.  

As for transport infrastructure, during 2011-2015 the province will scale up investment to build a synchronised social and technical infrastructure, while upgrading existing system and opening several new routes.

Total estimated investment would surpass VND5.7 trillion ($274 million) with over VND3 trillion ($144 million) during 2011-2015.

Regarding power network development, Yen Bai strives to achieve the goal of all provincial communes being accessible to the national power grid by 2013. ODA capital will go to prioritised projects on building power systems in rural, remote areas and areas facing difficulties, focusing on installing low-voltage power transmission lines to communes and hamlets.

Estimated investment will be around VND130 billion ($6.2 million) during 2011-2015.

As for trade and service, developing wholesale markets in diverse districts and communal centres and communal markets across the province will be prioritised for using ODA capital. Total estimated investment will be VND93 billion ($4.4 million) with VND50 billion ($2.4 million) during 2011-2015.

Efforts will gear towards upgrading and building new medical stations as well as schools and gradually modernizing transmission facilities. Total estimated investment will exceed VND6.3 trillion ($302 million) with VND3 trillion ($144 million) during 2011-2015.

Concerning environment  and natural disaster mitigation, emphasis will be placed on sourcing ODA capital to expedite projects seeking to mitigate natural calamities and environmental pollution consequences, raising staff capacity in natural disaster control and prevention of forest fires,  and building new resettlement areas for residents in flood-hit areas. Total estimated investment will be VND1.260 trillion ($60.5 million), including VND760 billion ($36.5 million) during 2011-2015.

Yen Bai expects to attract more than VND8 trillion ($385 million) ODA capital during 2011-2015 to make these commitments come true.

In  2012, the province envisages reaching around 90 per cent of its proposed economic development targets despite persistent economic woes. The province reported around 273,000 tonnes of grain-based food output (paddy rice output of 198,330 tonnes), heads of cattle increased 3.86 per cent and 15,017 ha of production forests were grown.

For 2011-2015, Yen Bai is on pace to achieve an average gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of 13.5 per cent per year, per capita incomes exceeding VND25 million ($1,200) by 2015, grain-based food output of 275,000 tonnes by 2015. Also by 2015, provincial industrial output is expected to reach VND7.4 trillion ($355 million), export value exceeding $100 million and mobilize VND34 trillion ($1.6 billion) for investment development during 2011-2015.

The provincial economy would consist of industry-construction at 41 per cent, services 34 per cent and agro-forestry-fisheries 25 per cent by 2015, changing to 45 per cent, 37 per cent and 18 per cent respectively by 2020.

By 2015, the province expects to employ 18,000 labourers of whom trained labourers will account for 45 per cent by 2015 and 55 per cent by 2020. Efforts will be made to reduce the rate of needy households by 4 per cent per year.

Socially, up to 85 per cent of residents in  rural areas and 75 per cent of urban dwellers shall be accessible to safe water by 2015 alongside a 63.5 per cent forest coverage rate.

Yen Bai seeks further support from the government to enable it to strengthen linkages with other localities and international business groups to make the most of their support to facilitate development.

By Khoi Nguyen


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