Minister of transport Nguyễn Văn Thể, on behalf of the Prime Minister, made the statement on Thursday as he presented the report on the feasibility study for the airport’s first phase. The study will be reviewed by the National Assembly (NA) during the ongoing 8th session of the 14th tenure held in Hà Nội.
The planned airport, situated near its namesake township in the southern province of Đồng Nai, is a national key project and expected to become a major international aviation hub in the region when it becomes operational, Thể said.
The first phase of the project costs an estimated VNĐ111.689 trillion or about US$4.779 billion, a little lower than the previously NA-approved figure of $4.782 billion, with ground clearance costs not yet accounted for.
According to the report, the project is made up of three investment phases with the ultimate goal of making the airport capable of serving 100 million passengers and handling 5 million tonnes of goods a year.
In the first phase of the project, one runway and one terminal will be built, together with other components.
Chair of the NA’s Economic Committee, which was charged with assessing the Government’s report, said that many NA deputies want the Government to add another runway to the first phase of the project, to make sure that if any incident were to occur, traffic at the airport's operation would not be disrupted.
A rendering of the proposed Long Thành International Airport in the southern province of Đồng Nai. — Photo courtesy of Airports Corporation of Việt Nam (ACV)
However, the committee still gave the nod to the Government’s plan on the first phase but asked that the Government quickly formulate the second and third phases of the projects.
The Government has also requested the NA to approve its plan to assign the State-owned Airports Corporation of Việt Nam (ACV) JSC as the main investor for Long Thành international airport right away, instead of going through open bidding as stipulated in the Law on Investment.
“Carrying open bidding and weighing which investors to choose will certainly cost us another 1.5-2 years, while truth be told, there couldn’t possibly be any company other than ACV who has the experience, the capacity, and can satisfy the demands for the insurance of national security in a highly important project like Long Thành international airport,” Thể told the parliament.
According to the Government’s plan, ACV will be the investor and operator of the airport, who will use its own capital to invest into the construction of the State management administrative building and essential component buildings of the airport.
ACV can make use of concession contracts to partner up with private businesses to carry out service components of the airport.
For construction components that are meant for air navigation management, the Government plans to assign the State-owned Việt Nam Air Traffic Management Corporation (VATM) to be the investor since this is the only company that is allowed to provide air navigation management services.
ACV expects to contribute about $1.566 billion in capital in the 2019-25 period, or 37 per cent of the total investment for the first phase of the airport project, with the remaining $2.628 billion coming from loans.
So far, ACV has worked with 12 foreign and domestic credit organisations and signed memorandums of understanding (MoU) to secure loans of $5 billion, with the borrowing term set for 15 years, a grace period of 5 years and an annual interest of 5-5.5 per cent.
The Government said the loans would not raise public debt level since there’s no official development aid involved. But the NA’s Economic Committee is concerned that since this is a project guaranteed by the Government, meaning that any cost overruns or financial problems met by ACV then the Government will have the responsibility to resolve them and the loans will certainly add to the rising amount of public debt, hindering efforts to keep it at manageable level.
Therefore, the committee asked the Government to fully assess the risks posed to public debt as a result of this plan.
VATM, on the other hand, reportedly could contribute VNĐ2.125 trillion and intends to borrow the remaining VNĐ1.110 trillion from Vietnamese commercial banks, with interest of 11 per cent a year.
Law on Cadres and Civil Servants
On the same day, legislators discussed amendments and supplements to the Law on Cadres and Civil Servants and the Law on Public Employees.
The issues included officials' appointment policies, punishment for those who have retired or resigned, and policies targeting talented people, among others.
Deputy Tô Văn Tám from Kon Tum Province said current appointment procedures for ministries’ officials and cadres lack transparency.
"In fact, there are cases where a young cadre is appointed, a usual question would pop up from the public: 'Who are her or his parents?'. It implies that people lack trust in the integrity of appointing procedures,” Tám said.
He said that, in principle, all civil servants have the same opportunities for promotion, regardless of their background.
“The problem here is the need to be open and transparent in the process of appointing staff. Therefore, it is essential to supplement the draft regulations on issues of openness and transparency in appointing individuals to the selected titles so people have full information. Based on such, people can exercise their rights in supervising cadres appointing procedures,” he said.
Regarding regulations on punishment for retired or resigned officials who violated State laws, Deputy Nguyễn Văn Hiển suggested either reducing or cutting off permanently the pensions of such officials and cadres. The favourable policies these retired officials enjoyed should also be reduced or cut off, for instance, their titles, medals and orders, Hiển said.
Hiển said he had consulted German experience on this matter, according to which retired public servants are still responsible for their violations when they were in office and disciplinary measures are to reduce and remove permanent pensions.
At the same time, the legal consequence is that the disciplined person will no longer have the right to introduce and be introduced as the former Minister, Deputy Minister, etc.
According to the draft, talented people in public duties are cadres and civil servants with outstanding professional capacity, making great and effective contributions to agencies, organisations and units. The State has a policy to reward those who are talented in public service.
Deputy Nguyễn Quang Tuấn from Hà Nội, said talented people need a good training environment to develop well. However, he also said talented people who do not have integrity might not be of much help to the country.
“There are people with talent but who only want to do good for themselves and not for the community. So I think the definition of 'talented people' has to be more precise – they have to have talent, but they also have to have integrity, enthusiasm and devotion to contribute to the nation’s development,” Tuấn said.
Minister of Home Affairs Lê Vĩnh Tân said it was rather difficult to give a comprehensive definition for “talented people” in many fields in the context of their possibile contributions to the country, so the draft only refer to them as those who are “talented in public services”. — VNS