New North-South Expressway price tag 'doesn't look good': lawmakers

By Hoang Thuy, Viet Tuan   January 7, 2022 | 06:00 pm PT
New North-South Expressway price tag 'doesn't look good': lawmakers
A section of the North-South Expressway in central Thua Thien Hue Province. Photo by VnExpress/Viet Quoc
Lawmakers expressed concerns about the very high price tag for 12 new sections of the North-South Expressway, saying the government needs to provide more specific figures.

The government’s proposal to build another 729 kilometers of the North South Expressway at VND200 billion ($8.69 million) per kilometer (land acquisition costs included) was a matter of concern, chairman Nguyen Phu Cuong said at a meeting of the parliament’s Finance and Budget Committee Thursday.

The big price tag, combined with the plan to select a contractor instead of using a bidding process, "doesn’t look good", he said.

Trinh Xuan An, member of the National Assembly’s National Security Committee, said that the price tag of VND175 billion per kilometer (excluding land acquisition costs) is higher than the VND153 billion estimate made by the State Audit Office of Vietnam.

The government needs to recalculate its figures to resolve the difference, he added.

Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc said that the price tag was only a rough estimate and the Ministry of Transport will come up with a more correct figure when it goes into the specifics of each of the 12 sections.

Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh said that Vietnam has only managed to build over 1,000 kilometers of expressway in the last 20 years, an average of 50 kilometers a year.

Government officials are trying to find out the reason for such a slow pace and looking to push up construction speed, he added.

President Nguyen Xuan Phuc said he supported the use of state budget for the expressway so that the whole country will be connected from Lang Son, the furthest province to the north, to Ca Mau, the furthest to the south.

He also said that in some major expressway projects contractors have sold their bid packages to other contractors, lowering the quality of the project. This mistake should not be repeated in the new sections, he added.

The government had tabled the proposal to build the 729-kilometer North-South Expressway from now until 2025 with the National Assembly earlier this week. In the proposal, the 12 sections have a total price tag of VND146.99 trillion.

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