State-owned expressway builder weighed down by debt

July 1, 2019 | 04:08 pm GMT+7
State-owned expressway builder weighed down by debt
Most of VEC’s loan agreements were made to finance high-speed expressway projects like the Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, or the Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

The Vietnam Expressway Corporation (VEC) has accumulated debts of VND87 trillion ($3.72 billion) as it funds several mega projects.

VEC’s year-end debt had risen by VND7.7 trillion ($329.62 million) in 2018. The debt, mostly composed of long-term loans, accounted for 90 percent of the corporation’s capital structure by the end of last year, according to its newly-released audited financial statements for 2018.

At the end of last year, VEC’s three biggest creditors were ADB, which it owed over VND31.2 trillion ($1.34 billion); JBIC, over VND28.96 trillion ($1.24 billion); and the WB over VND5.4 trillion ($231 million). The loan from JBIC has been transferred to the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to manage.

Most of VEC’s loan agreements were made to finance high-speed expressway projects like the $1.5-billion Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway, or the $930-million Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway, with payment periods ranging between 16 to 40 years.

The 245-km Noi Bai-Lao Cai Expressway runs between Hanoi and the northern mountain town of Sa Pa, and the 120-km Long Thanh – Dau Giay Expressway connects HCMC with the neighboring provinces of Dong Nai and Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Because VEC has to repay its loans in U.S. dollar or Japanese yen, in addition to interest and commitment fees, it recorded a loss of over VND2.1 trillion ($89.86 million) last year because of exchange rate differences.

This major expenditure eliminated most of VEC’s profits in 2018 compared to the previous year, despite significantly increased revenue. The expressway operator made a meagre VND3 billion ($128,400) after-tax profits in 2018, compared to VND931 billion ($39.84 million) in 2017.

VEC recorded VND3.21 trillion ($137.35 million) in net revenue, an increase of 17 percent compared to 2017. Most of this revenue came from the operation, maintenance, and handling of toll collection on expressway routes, with a minor proportion from financial investments and interest from bank deposits.

Last month, the State Audit Office called for the retrieval of $493 million wrongly allocated by the Ministry of Planning and Investment to VEC for four expressway projects.

 
 
go to top