Jun 08, 2017 / 13:04

Ho Chi Minh City strives to be a sustainable urban area

Before 1975, Saigon was a city known as the “Pearl of the Far East” at war. After April 30, 1975, Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon entered a new era of peace and development with the aspiration to restore the old fame. Fourty two years now and Ho Chi Minh City’s government and people have been striving to achieve the goal of sustainable urban development as soon as possible.

Innovation to always be the flagship
Four years after the national reunification, in August 1979, the Ho Chi Minh City Party Committee issued Resolution No. 9 on mobilizing all social resources to restore production and services and improve people’s living conditions. The first task is to get out of the old mechanism, eliminate the allocation – submission regime, establish the market economy, increase production efficiency, create jobs and improve the lives of workers.
This resolution has driven Ho Chi Minh’s economy up. GDP per capita rose from  US$ 215 in 1976 to  US$ 290 in 1980 and US$ 395 in 1985. The average GDP growth rate was 2.2%/year in the 1976 - 1980 period and increased to 8.2%/year in the 1981 – 1985 period.
After the Sixth National Party Congress (in 1986), Ho Chi Minh City and the whole country embarked on a comprehensive renovation strategy in the context of heaped up difficulties. However, Ho Chi Minh City gradually overcame the shortcomings and management stagnation under the spirit of unceasing innovation and economic management in line with the market mechanism, commodity production, promotion of exchange, cooperation and international integration. 
Photo: Song Huong
Photo: Song Huong
As a result, in the 1991 – 1995 period, Ho Chi Minh City’s economy increased sharply from 9.8% in 1991 to 15.3% in 1995. In the 1996-2000 period, HCMC’s GDP growth rate declined under the impact of the world financial crisis but still remained the highest in the country (9%). In the early years of the 21st century, HCMC’s GDP growth rate had increased continuously for 7 consecutive years from 9.5% in 2001 to 11.6% in 2004, 12.2% in 2006 and 12.6% in 2007.
At the 9th HCMC Party Congress (2011 - 2015), HCMC has new beliefs, i.e new creativity for active integration and development. The most outstanding feature is the economic structure shift towards the value added industries with high science and technology level. At the 10th HCMC Party Congress (2015-2020 tenure), HCMC has launched 7 breakthrough programs related to the fundamental and essential fields of the HCMC construction, protection and development cause (the 2015-2020 period).
In spite of facing a number of difficulties in the urban development process such as traffic jam, flood, housing, food safety and environmental pollution, Ho Chi Minh City still demonstrates its ability to “respond” well and gain plausible economic and social achievements.
“Administrative Service” Thinking
 “Ho Chi Minh City’s goal is to soon become a sustainable development urban area. In order to achieve this goal, HCMC has to create a “balance of cauldron” which are  economic development, social stability and living environment improvement. In addition, HCMC must also achieve “4 other stability criteria”: good management, good competitive environment, strong financial resources and people’s good life”, said the Chairman of HCM City People’s Committee Nguyen Thanh Phong.
Thus, in order to achieve the goal of becoming a sustainable urban center, Ho Chi Minh City plans to  implement 7 breakthrough programs: Human resource quality improvement Program; Administrative reform program; Growth quality improvement program, Economic competitiveness enhancement; Traffic accident and traffic jam reduction program; Program of flood reduction, Response to climate change and sea level rise Program; Environmental pollution reduction program; Urban renewal and development program.
 “HCMC people want a lot of issues to be improved, especially urban development. Traffic jam, environmental pollution and flood are daily issues that have existed for a long time and have been causing many urgent consequences in public opinion. Therefore, HCMC needs a huge capital resource to develop transport infrastructure and urban renewal. It is the most basic solution to overcome these weaknesses but not easy to implement,” according to Phong.
Ho Chi Minh City will mobilize the main social resource- the private investment who are allowed to develop redundant lands and unused warehouse space in the city. And adjust the planning focusing  more on architecture.
The Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee confirmed that “To effectively implement the above solutions, HCMC should strengthen the state management of land, promptly detect and strictly handle violations; enhance the role of agencies, units, facilitate information smoothly to timely detect and thoroughly handle violations.
Promotion of economic leader role
According to Vice Chairman of HCMC People’s Committee Tran Vinh Tuyen, 7 breakthrough programs is under a strategy adopted by the 10th Ho Chi Minh City Party Congress (2015-2020 tenure) with 14 indicators, 12 key tasks and main solutions such as the annual average GDP growth rate of 8 - 8.5% (1.5 times higher than GDP growth rate of the whole country), structural shift towards service, industrial - construction, agro - forestry and aquaculture.
In term of the state management capacity, Ho Chi Minh City strives to be among the top 5 provinces for Provincial Governance and Public Administration Performance Index (PAPI) in the country, Provincial Competitiveness Index (PCI) and PAR index.
Tuyen emphasized that “In order to fulfill these important socio-economic targets as well as promote the economic leader role of the region and the whole country, HCMC’s task is to create a breakthrough in Business- Society- Environment. According to preliminary calculations, the capital resource for implementing 7 breakthrough programs is probably about 1,000,000,000,000,000 dong. However, it is estimated that HCMC’s budget will be only 360,000,000,000,000 in 2017. Therefore, HCMC has to change the execution way and the “approach” to capital resource to mobilize all resources of society”.
At the closing session of the Tenth Ho Chi Minh City Party Congress (2015-2020 tenure), Former Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Party Committee Vo Van Thuong (now Politburo Member, Secretary of the Party Central Committee, Head of the Central Propaganda and Training Commission) said that “Every officer, party member, public servant and official must be close to the grassroots, close to the people, put themselves in citizen’s shoes to listen and understand and then devote themselves to handle issues for the legitimate interests of people, especially urgent issues in production, business and social life”.
It is hoped that the goal of becoming a sustainable development urban center of Ho Chi Minh Citty will be realized soon!
Ho Chi Minh City’s goal is to reach GRDP per capita of US$ 9,800 by the end of 2020 (about US$ 5,500 in 2016). By 2020, the proportion of trained workers reaches 85% of the total working population. In 5 years, 625,000 workers will have jobs (125,000 workers per year on average); Urban unemployment rate is below 4.5%. At the same time, the per capita income of poor households increases by 3.5 times compared to early 2011; the rate of poor households according to the “Sustainable poverty reduction” program reduces to 1% per year in the 2016 - 2020 period. By 2020, the total area of new houses will reach 40 million m2 and the average house area will reach 19.8m2; 300 classrooms/10,000 people of school age (3 -18 years old); 20 doctors/10,000 people, 42 sick-beds in accordance with the National standards/10,000 people.