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Vietnam national park losing trees as law not enforced: study

A photo by international conservation group FFI shows people illegally but openly carry timber out of Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam. A recent study by an international conservation group found that weak enforcement of the law at Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park in central Vietnam is threatening to push some invaluable tree species to the brink of extinction.

Illegal logging and transport of timber were observed almost all over the UNESCO-recognized park in Quang Binh Province, Nguyen Manh Ha and Do Tuoc, members of the UK-based Flora and Fauna International, said at a recent conference, Tien Phong newspaper reported Tuesday.

These operations were going on publicly, the study found.

Photos taken during the study showed that the loggers had openly put up tents in the park and were rarely accosted by forest rangers or other officials.

The most commonly targeted for logging were timber trees like sua (Dalbergia tonkinensis), according to the study.

Vietnam banned the commercial use of the timber in 2007 but high demand for it, especially from China, has kept the illegal trade going.

At least three sua trees were reported to be cut down in the park last month.
  In addition, to overcome the shortcomings in investment management, the draft law specifies new forms of management, consisting of investment trust, project completion assessment and project impact assessment.

Moreover, there is currently no regulation on maintenance costs, leading to a rapid degradation of construction works. Therefore, the draft law supplements provisions on such issues.

There are also additional regulations on project completion assessment and project impact assessment in order to clarify the responsibilities of those making investment decisions, the project owners and especially the consultants.

The planning ministry also sought the Government’s approval for the scheme to introduce an act on public investment with a wide coverage to correct State capital investment activities.

In particular, the act should impose regulations on State capital investment. The State capital includes the State budget, credit capital guaranteed by the State,

the State credit capital for investment and development, capital for investment and development of State-owned enterprises and other funds managed by the State.

This act will solve the problems of overlap and lack of synchronization, ensuring consistency in managing investment activities of State-owned enterprises.

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It will also cover all the State-funded projects and create a uniform policy on State capital investment, said the planning ministry.

However, the ministry stressed this is not an easy task, saying that in order to make an act with such a wide coverage,

it is necessary to review a lot of legal documents concerning investment activities to adjust or replace them in order to ensure their consistency with the act.

The draft Law on Public investment has been initiated since 2007 with an aim to address problems and wrongdoings in public investment. The lack of sanctions for public inves

– Vietnam will revamp the Investment and Enterprise laws to make them more liberal for honest investors but tougher for those either failing to fulfill their investment commitments on schedule

or leaving behind their poor business operations without prior notice.

Quach Ngoc Tuan, deputy head of the Legal Department of the Ministry of Planning and Investment,

told a seminar on foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction in HCMC last week that the Investment Law would be amended in a way that would include tough sanctions against runaway investors.

For fear that a legal basis is absent and that certain FDI investors might file legal action at a foreign court in case Vietnamese authorities take back their investment licenses,

the Ministry of Planning and Investment has long got stuck in tackling the projects whose investors are nowhere to be found.

Statistics of the ministry show there are hundreds of FDI projects in which their investors could not be found at the registered addresses, might have fled the country, or could not have been contacted.

According to the ministry, those projects might have been unprofitable, and thus unable to pay debts, wages or taxes. There are a couple of projects whose investors had run away after they raised funds from partners here.

This chronic issue is ascribable to the complicated and time-consuming procedures for business dissolution and liquidation. The consequences are workers are unpaid, local partners lose money and the State loses tax revenues.

The Investment Law will be revised in a way that makes foreign investors more responsible for delays in their project implementation, thus ensuring land and other natural resources can be put into full use and public confidence in FDI projects can be maintained.

Speaking at the seminar, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Van Trung said the Government’s Resolution 103/NQ-CP provides a variety of vital measures for improving the attraction of FDI capital and the efficiency of FDI activity.

The measures include improving the legal framework for FDI, changing the FDI incentive policy, building a mechanism for channeling FDI into supporting industries and high-tech parks,

completing regulations on environmental protection, and strengthening foreign exchange, credit and land policies.

The country will be further streamlining investment appraisal, approval and licensing procedures to allow investors to put their projects into operation as soon as possible, Trung told the seminar, which was held by the ministry in coordination with a number of organizations.

Vietnam lacks specialized IPs

The country now has around 300 industrial parks but a majority of them are designed for a variety of sectors, thereby leading to the lack of an investment focus, said Professor Nguyen Mai.

Haiphong and Ba Ria-Vung Tau are the country’s two provinces to have specialized industrial parks for supporting industries following an instruction by the Government,

so efforts are being made to attract investment capital into these parks, said Huynh Ngoc Phien,