Amid the government’s rush to push up public investment as one of the key pillars for economic growth, numerous projects have been accelerating their progress to match the plan set forth, while some are failing to follow suit with their capital being transferred elsewhere.
Urged by the establishment of a task force under the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI), the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and other related ministries and agencies in July, the progress of numerous public investment projects improved significantly. Particularly, three sub-projects in the Eastern Cluster of the North-South Expressway – Mai Son-National Highway No.45, Vinh Hao-Phan Thiet, and Phan Thiet-Dau Giay sections – that have reverted from a public-private partnership model to public investment, will break ground in September and are expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Explaining the good performance of these projects, Duong Viet Doan, director of the Thang Long Project Management Unit which implements the projects, said, “The Ministry of Transport (MoT) has asked us to adjust feasibility studies, separate bidding packages, and build up estimations, while waiting for the decision of changing the investment method.”
As of late July, 54km (equivalent to 86 per cent) of Mai Son-National Highway No.45 in Ninh Binh and Thanh Hoa provinces, 96km or 95 per cent of Vinh Hao-Phan Thiet in Binh Thuan, and 77km or 77 per cent of Phan Thiet-Dau Giay sections across Binh Thuan and Dong Nai have had land cleared.
According to the MoT, the 11 sub-projects of the North-South Expressway have already disbursed VND5.53 trillion ($240 million) of the VND8.97 trillion ($390 million) total in 2020’s public investment plan, equivalent to 61.6 per cent.
The MoT is one of the ministries allocated the largest public investment budgets, at about VND40 trillion ($1.74 billion) in 2020, some VND21 trillion ($0.91 billion) of which has already been disbursed in the first eight months.
While the performance cannot meet the plan set forth just yet, MoT Minister Nguyen Van The affirmed that the entire public investment plan will soon be realised as most obstacles have been overcome and projects such as the aforementioned three will start construction in the coming months.
Meanwhile in contrast, disbursement for Long Thanh International Airport is not faring so well. Around VND1.38 trillion ($60 million) has already been poured into land acquisition, compensation, and resettlement support in the first eight months of the year, with accumulated disbursement at VND2.51 trillion ($109.3 million), only 13.82 per cent of the assigned plan.
“The project is quite slow in public investment disbursement and it is difficult for it to progress with land clearance, hand over land, and realise all of the public investment plan,” MPI Minister Nguyen Chi Dung said.
Recently, nine ministries and agencies including the MPI, the Government Office, and Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park Management Board, as well as nine localities have offered to return to the state budget VND6.4 trillion ($278.2 million) of their public investment budgets.
“The MPI also received requests to increase the capital allocated to seven ministries, agencies, and 31 localities by a total of VND13.5 trillion ($587 million),” Minister Dung said.
According to the MoF, accumulated disbursement in the first eight months of the year was around VND221.8 trillion ($9.6 billion), reaching 47 per cent of the yearly plan. Of this, only five ministries/agencies and 19 localities have disbursed at least 60 per cent of total capital assigned, while 29 ministries/agencies and six localities disbursed 35 per cent and lower. Around 15 ministries/agencies and one locality managed 15 per cent and below.
The Ministry of Health, one of the worst-performing ministries, has realised only 15 per cent of the VND6.57 trillion ($285.6 million) assigned for it this year.
Over recent years, public investment capital has been too slowly disbursed due to various reasons, negatively affecting Vietnam’s socioeconomic development. “If localities fail to disburse in full this capital in September, the government will ask permission from the National Assembly to cut their capital and move it to other more effective localities, while leaders of ministries and localities will be inspected over their public investment activities and eventually punished,” Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc stressed.