|Minister Nguyễn Văn Thể|
Minister of Transport Nguyễn Văn Thể speaks to online site vietnambiz.vn about solutions to better manage toll booths of Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) projects
Can you share your viewpoint on a series of recent protests against toll booths of BOT projects?
BOT projects follow policies stated in the Central Party Committee’s Resolution13 and Government Decree 108. However, we did not foresee the shortcomings of these toll booths. There are so many booths located in a specific zone that the improperly placed ones take a heavy toll on transport expenses and directly impact drivers and people living nearby. The residents want the problems to be fully addressed.
The Government ordered the Ministry of Transport to reduce the toll, so the ministry lowered the fee from VNĐ35,000 (US$1.50) to VNĐ15,000 ($0.60) per car at a number of booths.
But if the projects do not collect fees, the State has to spend money to fund them. Meanwhile, the State budget is struggling to afford spending.
What measures will be taken by the transport ministry to deal with suspended booths?
I hope the Government and the National Assembly’s Standing Committee will soon approve solutions.
If the National Assembly approves the budget allocation, we might have to spend tens of trillions of đồng to deal with the booths in question. The State budget for 2016-20 has almost dried up so we might have to use the 2020-25 budget.
The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister held meetings on the matter and ordered solutions for some projects; for example, the request to remove Tân Đệ BOT toll booth. The Directorate for Roads of Việt Nam is completing procedures for the removal in the coming months.
What policies will the ministry use to ensure regulation consistency and gain public support for upcoming BOT projects?
In the past, because of the limited financial capacity of investors, the number of investors bidding was low. Therefore, the Government decided to appoint capable investors.
The appointment mechanism will be replaced by open bidding for newly implemented projects. Eight projects for the North-South Expressway mega-project will be implemented under the public-private partnership model.
The transport ministry will be in charge of the price framework. This project will set an example for others.
An airport funded by a private corporation was recently opened. Will the ministry encourage private investment for BOT projects in the future?
It usually takes five to six years to complete of an airport with State funding, while it only takes two to three years for a private airport. The ministry has proposed the Government and National Assembly review the Law on Public Investment and Law on Bidding to cut down on the number of investment procedures and assign management tasks to some ministries so the construction time will be shortened.
Private corporations are capable of building quality projects. In the case of limited State budget, projects such as Long Thành airport should be allowed to call for investment from strong private corporations. — VNS