The Hoa Sen Ca Na steel complex project has been a hot topic of debate. Experts discovered that the project was added by MOIT on the list of steel projects to be developed in Vietnam just two days before the conference on promoting investment in Ninh Thuan province (August 27).
Truong Thanh Hoai, MOIT’s Heavy Industry Department’s director, said Hoa Sen Ca Na ‘inherits’ the Vinashin-Lion project which was approved by the Prime Minister eight years ago.
Emphasizing the importance of the project, Hoai said even if Hoa Sen Group did not register the project, Ca Na steel project would still be developed by someone else.
However, experts pointed out that the steel industry development plan by 2020 released on January 31, 2013 did not mention the Ca Na project.
The project was also not mentioned in the plan on developing industries and trade in the central region and central coastal areas by 2025 approved by MOIT on August 22, 2016.
Meanwhile, Tran Dinh Thien, head of the Vietnam Economics Institute, commented that it is necessary to reconsider the projec because of its environmental consequences.
Sharing the same view with Thien, Le Dang Doanh, a renowned independent economist, said that a certain ‘development strategy’ must not be considered as ‘immutable truth’ and that all strategies must be adjusted if problems are found.
He went on to say that the development plan was drawn a long time ago, while there had been many changes in market demand and production capacity.
“The way MOIT and other relevant ministries followed programming steel industry development showed irresponsibility,” Doanh said.
“Ninh Thuan province is the land with water deficiency. MOIT plans to set up a steel complex there, which consumes a lot of water, energy and produces a large volume of emission,” he said.
Doanh said he does not believe in the development strategy. “It must not be cited as the reason for the development of the steel project in Ca Na,” he said.
Thien has questioned if Hoa Sen Ca Na’s steel can compete with cheap Chinese products, warning that Vietnam will have to compete with China in the context of oversupply in China.
He believes that it would be better not to pursue ‘sunset industries’.