Jun 06, 2019 / 11:48

Vietnam ministry blamed for preventing audit of BOT projects

The Hanoitimes - A lawmaker blamed the Ministry of Transport for non-transparency at road projects.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Transport has been blamed at the ongoing parliament plenum for preventing the audit of road projects which are invested under the build-operate-transfer (BOT) form.
 
Lawmaker Bui Van Phuong at the interpellation on June 5. Photo: VietNamNet
Lawmaker Bui Van Phuong at the interpellation on June 5. Photo: VietNamNet
At an interpellation of the National Assembly’s plenary session on June 5, lawmaker Bui Van Phuong asked Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The why the ministry hindered the audit plans by the State Audit Office of Vietnam (SAV). 

The lawmaker questioned why both the Ministry of Transport and the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that the BOT projects are not subject to the audit as they are privately invested. 

In answering to the question, the minister rejected the allegation, insisting that the ministry always welcomes the audit and the number of audited projects reaches nearly 100%. 

The lawmaker immediately opposed the answer, saying that the ministry invited the SAV to audit only three projects namely Ca tunnel in the central region, Trung Luong-My Thuan expressway in the south, and Bac Giang-Lang Son expressway in the north. 

The lawmaker said that the SAV has audited 61 projects and proposed to reduce the toll collection at those projects by 222 years. 

If the SAV was not allowed to audit the BOT projects, the people would pay toll much longer, the lawmaker stressed. 

 
Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The. Photo: VietNamNet
Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The. Photo: VietNamNet
Bad reputation 

So far, BOT projects remain a hot topic catching public attention due to their huge investment, non-transparency, and lack of supervision. 

Seriously, the majority of BOT projects are built by appointed investors and contractors (without public bidding), including many projects get no approval by the People’s Councils. 

For road projects built under the build-transfer (BT) model, the SAV said that most of BT projects are in big cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City whose land prices are high, benefiting the investors more, according to the Thanh Nien newspaper. 

Nontransparent toll collection at BOT projects has also caused public indignation. 

In fact, BOT developers took all control on toll collection and make self-calculation on cash revenues to report to state agencies. Meanwhile, the related agencies conduct regular checking every several years. 

The operations have enabled BOT developers to turn out to be frauds for tax evasion. People suspect that the toll stations are falsifying their collection records. 

Following the situation, the government has asked the Ministry of Transport to install electronic toll collection (ETC) at all BOT projects nationwide by the end of 2019 to avoid squandering. 

Prof. Nguyen Trong Hoa, former director of Ho Chi Minh City Department of Planning and Architecture, said that the developers deliberately delay the ETC, the Tuoi Tre newspaper has reported.  

Unreasonable installation of toll berths along expressways and high toll have triggered indignation among locals and drivers. Part of drivers paid toll by notes as an action showing their protest. Some strikes protesting the issues have taken place across the nation. 

Economist Le Dang Doanh, a former advisor of the prime minister, told the Giao Duc Viet Nam e-newspaper that lack of supervision in toll collection at several BOT road projects has enabled the developers to raise toll at high levels, largely driving up input cost of many businesses. To some extent, toll would harm Vietnam’s competitiveness.