by Compiled by Le Hung Vong
HCM CITY (VNS) — The volume of remittances from overseas Vietnamese to the country in the months before the Tet (Lunar New Year) is expected to be 35 per cent higher than the figure recorded in the other months of 2013, according to the Dong A Remittance Co.
As the economies of developed countries have recovered from crisis, revenues of overseas Vietnamese in Australia, Canada, France and the US have increased, and their remittances are rising.
According to the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs, some 83,000 Vietnamese were sent to other countries as guest workers in 2013, contributing significantly to overseas Vietnamese's remittances this year.
The Bank of Investment and Development of Viet Nam estimated a total remittance of US$11 billion to the country this year, and the figure is expected to increase by 10 per cent next year.
Remittances through Sacombank Remittance Company's service was estimated at $1.7 billion, said Pham Huu Phu, chairman of the Board of Sacombank.
Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy chief of the State Bank of Viet Nam, HCM City branch, said overseas Vietnamese remittances channeled into HCM City in 2013 is estimated at $4.8 billion to $5 billion, compared with the $4.1 billion in 2012.
"These figures are ‘realistic' as remittances to Viet Nam through HCM City - based banks in the first 10 months of the year amounted to $3.8 billion," said Minh.
He added that most of the remittances were received in the last months of the year.
Pham Thanh Ha, deputy head of Vietcombank, said remittances transferred into Vietnamese dong rose to 25 per cent (of total remittances) in 2013 from 20 per cent in 2012 and 10 per cent the previous year as the Vietnamese currency has become stronger.
The deputy director of Dong A Remittances Co, Trinh Hoai Nam, said due to the stability of the exchange rate (of Vietnamese dong) this year, clients tended to exchange the foreign currencies of their remittance into Vietnamese dong right after receiving it at banks.
The stagnant property market has affected projects for commercial houses as well as housing projects for families affected by urban development projects, as many of the developers of resettlement housing have apartments unsold.
The management board of the Thu Thiem Urban Area in District 2 has received only 2,878 apartments and 1,512 foundations for 12,500 houses planned for the district's re-settlement project, only 1,700 to 1,800 of these apartments were expected to be sold.
Many houses under other resettlement projects in HCM City have been left unoccupied.
These include the North Rach Chiec Residential Area Project in District 9 which was brought into use five years ago. So far, only a few apartments have been occupied in this five-storey building designed to provide housing to over 100 resettled households, who had to move to make way for construction of the Bac Rach Chiec property project.
According to residents in this area, poor access to the facility and difficulty in finding a job in the area are hindering households from resettling in this housing facility.
The 72-apartment Him Lam-Kenh Te Tenement on Nguyen Huu Tho Street has only a few tenants after seven years in operation, while the Phu My Tenement in District 7 has only 50 tenants for its 300 apartments.
Similarly, the investor of the Vinh Loc B Tenement in Binh Chanh District has to pay management and maintenance fees of billions of Vietnamese dong per month for the 1,132 unsold apartments at this tenement.
Not only investors but also authorities at district levels have to shoulder the burden caused by these resettlement projects. The People's Committee of District 12 paid VND60 billion ($2.7 million) to purchase resettlement apartments that are not accepted by households affected by urban development projects in the locality.
According to Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper, households affected by urban development projects have to accept compensation for relocation of their homes at market prices. Therefore, they must be authorised to choose locations for their resettlement.
To solve the problems, the HCM City Department of Construction has proposed that 1,769 apartments under five resettlement projects in Districts 7, Binh Tan and Binh Chanh be converted into houses for low-income families.
The proposal, if realised, would help city authorities recover for the state budget thousands of billions of Vietnamese dong invested in these resettlement projects that remain unsold.
Early start urged for new airport
HCM City and neighbouring Dong Nai Province have asked the central government to start construction of Long Thanh Airport early, aiming to curb the overload currently facing Tan Son Nhat Airport and to boost economic development of Dong Nai.
HCM City's Tan Son Nhat Airport, which was earlier planned to accommodate 13 million passengers in 2015, is currently serving 20 million passengers a year, the chairman of the HCM City People's Committee, Le Hoang Quan, said during an online meeting with the Government on December 23.
If work on Long Thanh Airport project cannot start early, Tan Son Nhat Airport will face severe overload in the next two or three years, hindering socio-economic development of HCM City and the region as well, said Quan.
Dinh Quoc Thai, chairman of the Dong Nai provincial People's Committee, added that the Government should begin the Long Thanh Airport Project early to help speed up economic development of Dong Nai Province.
Thai said over 10,000 people would be affected by land reclamation for the airport project, adding that there must be two large resettlement projects with total capital of VND7.2 trillion ($342.86 million) to pave the way for the Long Thanh Airport project.
"To help boost Dong Nai Province's economic development, we have asked the Government to start the Long Thanh Airport Project early," said Thai.
According to the Airport Corporation of Viet Nam (ACV), the first stage (2014 - 20) of the airport project requires investment of $5.6 billion and the capital would be raised from various sources. State funds and Official Development Assistance capital will make up around 53 per cent.
The 5,000-ha airport project, approved by the Government in 2005, should begin soon so the first stage will be completed in 2020 to share the burden with Tan Son Nhat Airport.
It will be 32km long from Bien Hoa military airport, 43km from Tan Son Nhat Airport and have a maximum capacity of 100 million passengers and five million tonnes of cargo each year.
According to Japanese consultants, construction of Long Thanh Airport will cost over $7.8 billion and land reclamation expenses will be $730 million, compared with an estimated cost of over $9.1 billion required for the expansion plan of Tan Son Nhat Airport.
Dong Nai Province has proposed that the Government allocate VND4.1 trillion (over $193 million) for a construction resettlement area and nearly VND4.2 trillion for site clearance during the first stage. — VNS