|A lane dedicated to automatic toll collection on National Highway 1A in the central province of Quảng Trị. VNS Photo Đoàn Tùng|
HÀ NỘI — Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình on Wednesday chaired a meeting with ministries and agencies to discuss the implementation of the automatic toll collection systems on highways.
The Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) is in charge of managing these projects.
Reporting on the implementation of the non-stop automatic toll collection system in projects managed by VEC, Deputy Minister of Transport Lê Đình Thọ said the deadline for all toll collection stations to switch to automatic is December 31 this year.
The project’s first phase launched in November 2014 has an investment of more than VNĐ2 trillion (US$86.2 million), aiming to provide the service for 44 build-operate-transfer (BOT) stations.
So far, the ministry has signed contract appendixes to implement the electronic toll collection system at 40 toll stations.
The project’s second phase deploys the system in 33 stations with a joint-venture of Viettel and other IT companies as the main investors.
Participants at the meeting discussed the biggest problem of a lack of capital to implement the system. This is an enterprise project, so the State budget cannot be used for investment.
“VEC has only one resource, which is the toll fees and charges. The non-stop automatic toll collection system is part of the expressway project, so the Ministry of Transport proposes that VEC is allowed to use the toll collection of the expressway projects to invest and pay for the operation of the toll collection system, ”said Deputy Minister Thọ.
Deputy Minister of Finance Vũ Thị Mai said expressway projects managed by VEC must pay their debts to sponsors including the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). However, VEC has been slow in payment of due debts, Mai said.
This situation, if repeated, will seriously affect the reputation of the Government. Therefore, the Ministry of Finance proposed not using toll collection to pay off the completion of projects, even for non-stop automated toll collection projects. The project's revenue source must be prioritised for debt repayment, she emphasised.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình asked the Ministry of Transport and the Commission for the Management of State Capital to work on the problem and find a solution. — VNS