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Jun 27, 2019 / 18:18

Ho Chi Minh City asked to return US$1.1 billion to state budget in Thu Thiem case

Ho Chi Minh City is required to assume responsibilities for the long-stalled Thu Thiem new urban area.

Vietnam’s Government Inspectorate (GI) has proposed Ho Chi Minh City’s authorities pay back to the state budget VND26.3 trillion (US$1.1 billion) which had been wrongly used for the building of the Thu Thiem New Urban Area. 
Thu Thiem urban area. Photo: Tuoi Tre
Part of Thu Thiem urban area. Photo: Tuoi Tre
The local government had used the money from the state’s advance payment for the construction of a long-stalled urban area of 4.3 hectares in District 2, local media cited the GI’s report which was released on June 26. 

Ho Chi Minh City’s authorities have also been required to soon pay bank loans worth VND4.3 trillion (US$186 million) for the complex project. 

The local authorities need to report to the prime minister VND10.5 trillion (US$456 million) worth of interests from the advance payment and VND17 trillion (US$739 million) from wrong calculation of investment costs. 

Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committe Nguyen Thanh Phong. Photo: Tien Phong
Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People's Committe Nguyen Thanh Phong. Photo: Tien Phong
The GI proposed the Ministry of Finance examine average investment costs for cleared land with infrastructure (the state had paid for site clearance and infrastructure there) to set starting prices for bidding for land tenure rights and project investors. 

The GI proposed the Central Inspection Commission punish involving organizations and individuals (who are under the supervision of the Politburo and Secretariat).

The GI proposed the government ask Ho Chi Minh City to punish organizations and individuals from the Management of Thu Thiem New Urban Area, Departments of Transport, Finance, Natural Resources and Environment, Planning and Architect, Construction, Planning and Investment, the city’s Institute for Research and Development, consulting firms, and project investors. 

Long-stalled Thu Thiem project leaves people miserable. Photo: Thanh Nien
Long-stalled Thu Thiem project leaves people miserable. Photo: Thanh Nien
In settling the case in terms of responsibility and economics, if the wrongdoings would not be thoroughly solved before December 31, 2019, the case would be passed to police for further investigation. 

One day after the GI’s announcement, Chairman of Ho Chi Minh City People’s Committee affirmed that the local authorities will soon follow the request. 

The Thu Thiem New Urban Area is an ambitious development project of both Ho Chi Minh City and Vietnam. It is hoped to become a sustainable, dynamic, mixed-use central business district that helps spur the southern city’s economy. 

Thu Thiem is located on a 647-hectare peninsula across the Saigon River from the historic center of Ho Chi Minh City. The planning for Thu Thiem area was initiated in late 1990s and early 2000s.  

The long-stalled project and serious wrongdoings have left hundreds of households in misery including many homeless. The Thu Thiem case becomes plague with public strife for years. In meeting with the city’s authorities, local people never hide their indignation, demanding the local government bring justice to them. 

Relating to the mega project, some senior officials have been arrested for deliberate violations, including Tat Thanh Cang, a former deputy chief of the city’s party committee.