The first and the second positions in the 2011 list of 100 richest stock millionaires have belonged to Pham Nhat Vuong and Doan Nguyen Duc.
Pham Nhat Vuong has, for the second time, become the richest man on the Vietnamese stock market with the total stock assets valued at 16,764 billion dong by December 31, 2011. Vuong is the owner of a big real estate group.
Doan Nguyen Duc, the second richest millionaire, has been well known as the President of Hoang Anh Gia Lai group, which invests in many business fields, from rubber, minerals, hydropower, wooden furniture, football and real estate.
No one in the top 10 is from the technology sector. The other names in the top 10 are those from the real estate and banking, the two business fields which have the highest profitability in Vietnam in recent years. The high profitability of the two business fields can explain why investors have been rushing to inject money in the fields.
However, it is the two business fields which always suffer most when economic recessions occur. Some banks now have to undergo the restructuring to upgrade their capability. In 2011, a lot of real estate developers became penniless or lost trillions of dong when the real estate market got frozen and banks chased for debts.
Professor Dr Le Dang Doanh, a well known economist in Vietnam, when citing the example, tried to show that the question that Vietnam needs to think about now is how to obtain a high but sustainable growth, or, in other words, heighten the quality of the growth.
Doanh said at a workshop in late February that in mid of 1990s, 40-60 percent of the GDP in Vietnam came from TFP (total factor productivity). However, the figure has been sliding dramatically since 2006, when the figure was just less than 10 percent. In 2010 and 2011, the figure might be 3-4 percent only.
The figures show a bad situation. In difficulties, the contribution of the productivity and the management creativeness should have increased. Meanwhile, in Vietnam, the contribution of the factors has decreased.
Meanwhile, the contribution of the investment capital has jumped from 52 percent to 85 percent. As such, the motive power of enterprises is not the science and technology.
Doanh has noted that in Vietnam now, only “foolish” men would spend money on the technology sector. Meanwhile, wiser businessmen would spend money to trade land. They can buy a land plot today and sell tomorrow to take advantage of the land price hike wave to become a rich person just overnight.
Many of the billionaires in the US are those who master technologies. They are Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, or Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of Facebook. Meanwhile, many Vietnamese big cheeses just trying to exploit the natural resources, and very few of them come from the technology sector.
Doanh has suggested that there should be a mechanism which allows changing the motive power for the development. He stressed that it is necessary to encourage creativeness and technologies, while it would be better to impose heavy tax on the income from land. If such a policy is not applied, those who succeed in the technology sector would be able to become “big cheeses” after many years.
Sharing the same view with Dr Doanh, a businessman said that if Vietnamese people just try to exploit the natural resources instead of getting rich with their intelligence, Vietnamese posterity would have nothing.
On the home market, Vietnamese goods now have to compete fiercely with Chinese products. However, Vietnam still can stand firmly on its foot in the technology sector. Nguyen Ngoc Diep, Director of the Vietnam Price Joint Stock Company, also said that Vietnam has been lagging behind advanced countries by 50 years in the mechanical engineering sector, but it has been lagging only by three or four years in terms of science and technology.