A construction senior official has advised the establishment of a coordinating agency to ensure the quality of economic development of the wider HCM City metropolitan region.

The master plan for the region, which consists of HCM City and seven neighbouring provinces across an area of 30,400 square kilometers, was approved by the Prime Minister in 2008.

Covering the seven southern provinces of Dong Nai, Binh Duong, Ba Ria-Vung Tau, Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An and Tien Giang, the plan aims for the region to be one of the main engines for sustainable economic development in the country, as well as an economic center of Southeast Asia and Asia by 2050.

Addressing a recent meeting to discuss the master plan’s implementation, Deputy Minister of Construction Phan Thi My Linh said that localities in the region still yet cooperated effectively on implementing the plan.

Chairman of the Dong Nai provincial People’s Committee Dinh Quoc Thai raised the fact that each province had its own development plan, leading to most economic zones in the region calling for investment in the same industries without adequately mobilising each area’s advantages, which can reduce the competitiveness of the economic zones and the whole region.

Vice Chairman of the HCM City People’s Committee Le Manh Ha said that although a regional master plan was approved, the city and other provinces already have their own development plans.

He pointed out that HCM City attracted a large amount of migrants from neighbouring provinces who come to the city to work or for health services, so the city had to prepare to meet the demands of both its residents and migrants.

According to the Construction Ministry, HCM City Region now has a population of 18 million, accounting for 20 percent of the country’s total. It is the most developed economic zone in Vietnam with a GDP accounting for 60 percent of the national figure.

The city, as the main driver of the region, is expected to have a population of 20-22 million people by 2020, including 16-17 million living in urban areas.

With the current urbanisation rate of over 53 percent, the region faces overloading of its infrastructure and other social and environmental issues.

Major projects in the region currently being implemented include the HCM City-Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province and the Bien Hoa –Vung Tau Expressway.-VNA