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Environment first, FDI later

2018-7-18      View:
VietNamNet Bridge - A survey on foreign invested enterprises’ (FIE) observance of the laws on environment conducted by Hanoi Economics University in 2015 showed that 60 percent of FIEs had waste water with toxic concentrations higher than the permitted levels, while 23 percent had concentrations 5-12 times higher.
Nearly 70 percent of FIEs said making investment in Vietnam would allow them to save expenses on environment treatment by 10-50 percent compared with their home countries.
In April 2016, the Central Institute of Economic Management (CIEM) released a report on the environmental impacts caused by FIEs in Vietnam, showing worrying problems.
In 2008, Vedan Vietnam, a seasoning powder manufacturer, discharged unsafe waste water, seriously polluting Thi Vai River in Dong Nai province. With 100,000 cubic meters of waste water a month, the radius of the polluted area reached 10 kilometers along Thi Vai, causing damage to 2,700 hectares of aquaculture in Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and HCM City.
In mid-2016, Formosa Ha Tinh caused the mass fish deaths in four central provinces with its untreated waste water.
Local people have strongly protested against the pulp project developed by Lee & Man in Hau Giang after hearing that 28,500 tons of NaOH may be discharged into the environment a year.
Experts pointed out that the loosening of management over foreign direct investment (FDI) licensing caused by decentralization is a major reason behind the problem.
Local authorities, which strive to attract FDI to their localities, accept projects withoutdated technologies which cause serious pollution.
Do Thanh Bai from the Vietnam Chemistry Institute commented that in the past, Vietnam was thirsty for FDI and set easy requirements on foreign investors.?
It is now the time for Vietnam to tighten control over FDI licensing. Experts said instead of running after GDP (gross domestic product) growth, Vietnam should strive for sustainable development with GNI (gross national income) with an environmental index. GNI=GDP + income received from abroad – FIEs’ profit to be transferred abroad.
In order to prevent environmental danger which may arise in the future from the projects which have been licensed, or are going to be implemented, or have been implemented without thorough examination, the experts have suggested establishing a special institution called ‘the national environment committee’ to re-inspect the feasibility of the projects.
The committee would include domestic scientists and have consultancy from international experts.
By August 20, 2016, Vietnam had licensed 1,619 new projects with total investment capital of VND9.795 trillion, up 24 percent compared with the same period last year.