|The Lao Bao International Border Gate. The National Assembly says the Government should suspend the establishment of new border economic zones|
Viet Nam has so far established 15 EZs and 18 border EZs.
The Standing Committee was told that more than US$50 billion had been invested in 15 economic zones in the past 20 years.
However, reports on what economic results had been achieved was still limited, according to Finance and State Budget chairman Phung Quoc Hien.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) report said that the 15 economic zones covered more than 660,000ha.
It estimated that their total turnover was about $8 billion and exports valued at nearly $800 million.
The zones provided jobs for 30,000 people and contributed about $1 billion to the State budget by end of 2011.
“From my point of view, investment in this field is too dispersed and creates weak development,” said Hien.
“That’s why the Government should carefully review 20 years implementation of border economic zone development. From lessons learned, we could propose policies for the development of other economic zones,” said Hien.
Some deputies worried about the environmental pollution rampant in economic zones and the social security problems caused by economic zones in border provinces.
The MPI report said that 28 border economic zones had been licensed so far (18 of them already established) by the Government in border provinces nationwide. These zones had attracted 70 FDI projects with total investment of more than $700 million and more than 500 local projects with total investment of $1.9 billion.
However, import-export turnover in border economic zones was small compared to investment.
The Standing Committee report said the operation of border economic zones hadn’t met expected demands due to weak competition, failure to attract investment, lack of infrastructure or slow progress in clearing land and supplying water and electricity.
Deputy Chairman of the NA Law Committee Phan Trung Ly said that heavy trucks from economic zones had caused serious environmental pollution and damaged the infrastructure of border northern provinces.
Deputy Vu Thi Nuong said the Government should strengthen supervision in those zones, especially security and environment measures.
In a discussion on draft of price law, deputies said that the law should regulate list of price stabilised goods as one of measures to ensure social security.
On price stabilisation, NA Deputy Chairman Ngan said decisions would be made by the Government on a national scale while in some emergency cases provincial authorities would fine tune decisions.
Discussing the revised labour law, law makers agreed with a Social Affairs Committee proposal to increase maternity leave from four to six months to improve infant care and child health.
However, the draft permits mothers to return to work after four months if they wish.
Mothers have the right to still receive a full six-month maternity benefit.
The revised law will be approved at the third session of NA in 2012.