HCM City was dubbed the "Pearl of the Far East" over 40 years ago and was expected to become an "Asian dragon" after Vietnam conducted economic reforms but so far the "dragon"is still sleeping.
Turning HCM City into an "Asian dragon" is the concern of economists, people and leaders of HCM City. To do this it is very important to have special mechanisms for the city, including those that are beyond law.
At a recent workshop on HCM City’s development, Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, Head of the Vietnam Economic Institute raised the question why some cities in the region such as Shenzhen, Pudong (China), Seoul (South Korea), Singapore initially were 'behind Ho Chi Minh City, but now they are far beyond although they don’t have more advantages.
According to Thien, the reason why the city lags behind is due to the general structure. In the past 40 years, HCM City has had only two fundamental qualitative changes: the establishment of Phu My Hung urban area and the HCM City high-tech park but these works are not strong enough to change the level of development.
HCM City has not yet utilized the advantages of a large population, while institutions, markets, technology ... have changed slowly.
In addition, , the city’s institutional mechanisms are not active. It does not have motivation to move forward because if it makes more money, it has to pay to the central budget.
Thien said that the "roles and functions of the motive force must be different from the entire train".
Dr. Huynh The Du, Director of the Fulbright Economic Teaching Program, said there are many hindrances to Ho Chi Minh City, which make the city like other 62 provinces and cities in Vietnam.
"According to my studies, in the past 30 years, Ho Chi Minh City has had to ask for the central government’s approval for even very small things and the ask-give mechanism has been formed," Du said.
Du said that if Ho Chi Minh City had an additional $30 billion in the past 20 years, it would have been different from it is at present. As compared to Hanoi, HCM City’s economic indicators are 1.5 to 2 times higher, but is budget spending is only equivalent to 90% of that of Hanoi (statistics for the past 10 years).
For over the last two decades, the budget of HCM City was only about 10% of GRDP, while average budget spending in the country was 30%. This rate is only half of Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and 2/3 of Singapore.
And the rate of budget expenditures of Vietnam in the past 20 years was 30% of GDP and twice that of Singapore and 1.5 times of China.
HCM City was allowed to keep too little of the budget funds for the development of urban areas, creating added value and jobs like Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore and China did.
According to Dr. Tran Dinh Thien, to help Ho Chi Minh City to become an "Asian dragon" or the "Pearl of the Far East," there must be a mechanism for the city that goes ahead of the law so the city can become the center of integration. HCM City’s function is to lead national development and to be ASEAN's development center.