Vietnam to audit public investment, BOT projects

A total of 40 BOT projects were audited in 2016 and 2017

File photo: The Co Chien Bridge connecting Tra Vinh and Ben Tre Provinces in the Mekong Delta was previously inspected by the State Audit Office of Vietnam.

Vietnamese authorities are expected to audit a series of major public investment projects, along with multiple BOT (build-operate-transfer) projects next year.

Ho Duc Phoc, auditor general from the State Audit Office of Vietnam, has issued a statement on next year’s financial inspection plan, which will focus on major public investment projects in the transport sector.

Projects to be inspected include the renovation of National Highway 1, the Ho Chi Minh City metro line No.1 connecting District 1 and District 9, both the Cat Linh- Ha Dong and Nhon- Hanoi railway routes, and an airport in the northern province of Quang Ninh, among others.

Several BOT projects will also come under scrutiny in 2018, namely the Trung Luong- My Thuan Expressway in the Mekong Delta, Viet Tri- Ba Vi Bridge in northern Phu Tho Province, and the upgrade of National Highway 18 in the northern province of Uong Bi.

BOT is a financing framework in which the developer receives a concession from the private or public sector to finance, design, construct and operate a facility for a certain period, during which time it must raise finances for, and is entitled to retain all revenues generated by the project.

At the end of the agreed concession period, the facility is transferred back into public administration.

In 2016, the State Audit Office of Vietnam audited 27 BOT projects, suggesting a reduction in construction costs worth a total of VND1.15 trillion (US$50.6 million).

The concession periods of these projects were also shortened by a combined total of over 107 years.

Financial inspections were conducted on 13 BOT projects live in 2017.

The state audit office revealed several violations on BOT projects including developers and contractors selected without being subject to a proper bidding process.

Other offences related to inaccurate calculation of total investment capital.

The State Audit Office's announcement came shortly after a toll station on a BOT project in Cai Lay Town, located in the Mekong Delta province of Tien Giang, grabbed local headlines due to repeated opposition from commuters.

A project upgrading the section of National Highway 1 and building a detour across Cai Lay Town is currently operating the facility.

The toll station is placed on the existing highway instead of the new route, which means that a fee is collected regardless of the route chosen by drivers, rather than only being collected from drivers wanting to use the new detour.

Commuters believed that paying their regular road maintenance fees would give them the right to travel on the upgraded national highway without paying tolls.

Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on Monday ordered the operator of a tollgate to stop collecting fees from motorists for one month to review the situation.

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