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Vietnam gov’t asks legislature to delay adoption of draft law on special economic zones

Vietnam gov’t asks legislature to delay adoption of draft law on special economic zones

Saturday, June 09, 2018, 10:05 GMT+7

Vietnam's government and the National Assembly Standing Committee have agreed to ask the legislature to delay the adoption of a draft law on special administrative and economic zones (SAEZ) to have more time for research and completion.

The submission of the bill will be delayed to the next session of the lawmaking National Assembly, instead of the ongoing sitting in Hanoi as earlier planned, the Government Office said in a statement released at 3:00 am on Saturday.

The draft law, which has been raising concerns as it includes a 99-year land lease policy, was initially scheduled to be up for discussion and approval by Vietnamese lawmakers next week.

The set of rules is expected to regulate the country’s three planned SAEZs, Phu Quoc, Van Don, and Bac Van Phong, which will function as models for stimulating growth and attracting foreign investment.

The country’s legislative body commenced its fifth session in Hanoi on May 21, with the sitting expected to last for 25 days.

However, the government has decided to delay the submission of the draft law to the sixth sitting, scheduled for later this year, to have more time to complete the bill.

The draft law had been deliberated at the fourth sitting of the 14th National Assembly.

The government said the adjusted timeline will allow the final version of the bill to fully reflect the demands and needs of lawmakers, voters and members of the public, and ensure the success for the establishment of the three SAEZs.

The draft law on SAEZs has sparked concerns over an article dictating that land in the three special zones could be leased by foreign investors for up to 99 years, with critics saying that allowing foreigners to own land for nearly a century could pose serious threats to the country’s national security.

The government said in the Saturday statement that the land-lease term may be adjusted in the final proposal to be in line with the law on land. 

There will be no regulations on a special land lease of up to 99 years in special economic zones

A worker is seen at the construction site of an airport at the Van Don special economic and administrative zone in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre
A worker is seen at the construction site of an airport at the Van Don special economic and administrative zone in Quang Ninh Province, northern Vietnam. Photo: Tuoi Tre

The Phu Quoc SAEZ will be created on a namesake island off the southern province of Kien Giang, whereas the Van Don and Bac Van Phong SAEZs will be located in the northern province of Quang Ninh and the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, respectively.

The entire project is expected to cost a whopping VND1,570 trillion (US$69.16 billion) to develop.

As their names suggest, these SAEZs will function outside the scope of certain laws and policies enforced elsewhere in Vietnam, with the ultimate aim of creating attractive destinations for foreign investment.

Longer land lease terms, visa waiver policies for citizens from select countries, tax exemptions, and the legalization of activities outlawed elsewhere in the country are just a few of the conditions that would separate these zones from other Vietnamese localities.

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Son Luong / Tuoi Tre News

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