Viet Nam News
Nguyễn Đức Kiên, deputy chairman of the National Assembly Economics Committee, speaks to the Lao Động (Labour) newspaper about the need to tighten control of Build–Operate–Transfer (BOT) projects.
How do you respond to the “rumour” that some BOT road toll booths have illegally re-used their toll tickets for their own interest?
As far as I know, the phenomena occurred in the early years of the 2000s when the Government used the State budget to build roads and then collected fees.
Builders of those toll roads were State-owned corporations and toll collectors were companies affiliated to those corporations.
However, referring to the problem of illegally printing their own toll tickets, I don’t think they can do that. The tickets sold were all authentic, not faked. So in my opinion, we can’t jump to the conclusion that “the alleged re-use of old tickets” was a deliberate act, because no proof to support such an accusation has been found.
Is it possible that BOT is the main cause leading to “ticket fraud” on toll roads?
The key objective of collecting fees on toll roads is to ensure all road users pay a fee so that road constructors will meet the time schedule for paying back money to the banks. That’s the principle of BOT.
Ticket fraud arises from human’s greedy nature. Violations must be strictly sanctioned. If a BOT enterprise was detected in collusion with other parties to gain benefits for themselves, the enterprise would be duly punished by law. In the worst case, the enterprise’s operating licence would be withdrawn. This is well reflected in Việt Nam’s Bidding Law.
Do you have any suggestions to make the pay-back period not too long and still be in compliance with the law?
It is the responsibility of the entire society, including government agencies, BOT enterprises and the general public. What’s more important is that government agencies should hold high the principle of transparency and that enterprises must be lawful.
In other words, there should be close co-operation between government agencies, BOT enterprises and the general public.
So in your opinion, what are the remaining problems with BOT projects?
In my opinion, ticket fraud is just the tip of the iceberg with BOT projects. The fundamental issue with almost all BOT projects is their implementation procedures.
The core characteristic of a BOT project is that both the State and society want to have a good infrastructure system for the country. But how to finance BOT projects must be carefully calculated to ensure that they do not cause an imbalance in the State budget or cause a breakdown in the financial security of the country’s monetary system.
Adding to that, a BOT project should go through a bidding process, not a tender appointment as at present.
A BOT project is another form of Public Private Partnership. So the State should have a strong influential voice in the project.
Another important element is the process of selecting an enterprise for a BOT project. The winning enterprise must have strong financial capacity, with not all the money borrowed from a bank. Currently, most BOT projects use money borrowed from banks. Such a practice cannot be accepted. We don’t want the banks to become “hostages” of BOT projects. - VNS