Government can pick Long Thanh airport investor sans parliamentary nod

By Nguyen Hoai   November 24, 2019 | 06:45 pm PT
Government can pick Long Thanh airport investor sans parliamentary nod
An artist's impression of the Long Thanh International Airport to be built in Dong Nai Province, southern Vietnam. Photo courtesy of the Airports Corporation of Vietnam.
The National Assembly says the government does not need its approval to select an investor for the Long Thanh Airport megaproject.

The Bidding Law clearly stipulates that investor selection is under the jurisdiction of the Government and the Prime Minister, so the parliament will not make the decision, the National Assembly Standing Committee said in a report sent to NA deputies last weekend.

But the government will still need to ensure its selection abides by the principles such as national defence, security, national interest, and financial efficiency, because the new airport carries great national importance, the committee said.

The investment for this project must not exceed the VND336.63 trillion ($16 billion) cap at the time of approval by the NA, and not be guaranteed by the government, it added.

The NA Standing Committee also urged the government to drastically speed up land clearance for the project, saying the current process was slow and getting the land ready for construction by the end of 2020 poses a big challenge.

In its feasibility study for the first phase of the Long Thanh International Airport, the government had proposed assigning the state-owned Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) as the main investor, but lawmakers had expressed concern over ACV’s financial wherewithal to go through with the project that could cost up to $16 billion.

Nguyen Lam Thanh, a Lang Son Province NA delegate, said on November 13 that revenues of the ACV mainly come from 21 airports it operates, but only eight of the airports are profitable. 

So, even if it could raise the $4.78 billion required for the first phase, it is unclear how it would raise another $11 billion for the remaining phases, he said.

Located in southern Dong Nai Province, the Long Thanh International Airport is expected to begin running with a capacity of 25 million passengers a year at the end of the first phase, and this is envisaged to reach 85 million by 2020, according to the Ministry of Transport. 

The airport is to be built in three phases over three decades. The first phase is scheduled for completion in 2025, and the next two in 2030-35 and 2040-50, respectively.

It will take over the overflow from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in Ho Chi Minh City, which is currently operating at far above its designed capacity.

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