Saigon metro authorities request another advance payment to pay staff

By Huu Nguyen   March 4, 2019 | 09:01 pm PT
Saigon metro authorities request another advance payment to pay staff
More than half of HCMC's first metro line has been completed. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran
HCMC metro officials have asked the city for a VND39 billion ($1.67 million) advance payment to pay staff salaries.

The HCMC Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) has said in its petition that it is facing financial difficulties, despite making its first request for funds in November last year.

Project staff have only received a part of their monthly salary since January 31, and this was paid with what was left over from advance payments that the city had made last year.

Now, MAUR needs another advance payment to pay the staff’s remaining dues, because they are in distress, unable to cover their daily expenses.

The company stressed that the staff were making all efforts needed to meet the target of completing the metro line next year.

The municipal administration had in January this year allocated more than VND2 trillion ($86.2 million) from its own budget to pay for work that the contractor had last year and so far this year.

This will be the fifth time since 2017 that the city is making an advance payment (before getting funds from the central government) to the contractor of its first metro line.

In late November last year, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Umeda Kunio had said that unpaid bills for Japanese contractor Sumitomo Corporation had climbed to $100 million.

If the city failed to pay that bill by the end of 2018, the contractor might have to stop its work, he’d said in a letter sent to the government, ministries and the HCMC People’s Committee.

The Ben Thanh – Suoi Tien metro line runs 20 kilometers (12.43 miles) through the districts of 1, 2, 9, Binh Thanh, and Thu Duc of HCMC, and Di An District in the neighboring province of Binh Duong.

Work started in August 2012 and the project was expected to be finished in 2017 but financing and staff challenges made the target unachievable.

Only 62 percent was completed by the end of last year against a target of 65 percent.

The project’s demand to sanction an increase in cost from VND17.4 trillion ($747.6 million) to VND47.3 trillion ($2 billion) was approved in January.

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