Viet-Nam: The First Five Years: An International Symposium

By Richard W. Lindholm | Go to book overview

XIX. Early Steps Toward an Industrial Develop­ ment Bank

H. ROBERT SLUSSER121

AFTER JUNE, 1954, Free Viet-Nam had the opportunity, as well as the responsibility, to restore prewar production and to expand its industrial sector as rapidly as possible. The thousands of skilled and semiskilled workers who came as refugees to the south were an especially valuable addition to the labor force. There were plants north of the 17th parallel, chiefly around Hanoi and Haiphong, which could provide machinery and management for new operations; and, with the deadline of May 18, 1955, set by the Geneva Agreement for the evacuation of people and materials from north to south, plant managers were anxious to transfer their establishments before that date, but claimed they were unable to do so without financial help.

Among the "evacuation" projects was a cotton-spinning mill which had provided thread to many of the hand looms and small power looms throughout the country. After direct appeal to the Chief of State, this project was promised six million piasters of government aid, even though no instrumentality existed for putting the promise into effect.

The important commercial banks, which could provide financial assistance, were all foreign owned and previously had not financed industrial activities except through the respective trading or planting corporations with which they were linked. Considering the political situation, they were particularly hesitant about supporting new ventures.

Obviously, there was an urgent need to mobilize all the Vietnamese capital that might exist in unproductive forms as a foundation for the new industrial sector. An industrial development bank, established by the government, seemed to be the answer: It could identify promising investment opportunities, provide various types of technical assistance, and perhaps afford some foreign exchange facility.

During the second half of 1954 Nguyen Van Khai, Director General of Mines, Industry, and Handicrafts, working with a full-time French technical adviser and Vietnamese legal adviser, drew also on the facilities of USOM in an effort to outline the structure of an industrial development bank. Certain aspects of the draft statutes followed the model of PHILCUSA in the Philippines, while other features were adopted from the statutes and documents of development institutions collected in the USOM library. At first the outlines called for a very comprehensive institution, with a full range of financial powers. There was emphasis on equal powers also for fostering and supporting new industrial enterprises technically and administratively. Facilities were included for using ad-

____________________
121
Economic analyst, USOM, Saigon, June, 1954, to May, 1957.

-245-

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