Nation’s growth engine should retain greater share of revenues: HCMC party chief

By Huu Cong   April 13, 2019 | 07:50 pm PT
Nation’s growth engine should retain greater share of revenues: HCMC party chief
Ho Chi Minh City's downtown. The city's top leader says it needs to keep more budget revenue to afford infrastructure development. Photo by VnExpress
HCMC's party leader says city should be allowed to keep more of its revenues to pay for infrastructure development.

Ho Chi Minh City’s population makes up 9.5 percent of the nation’s 95 million, its labor force accounts for 8.2 percent of the nation’s, and it contributes on average 27 percent of the state’s annual budget collection, the municipal’s party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan said.

However, the city is only allowed to use 18 percent of its own budget collection, he said at a meeting with a central government delegation Friday.

"The city has to submit way too much to the state budget and keeps very little for itself. It is home to 9.5 percent of the country’s population, so it should be allowed to keep 9.5 percent of its budget collection instead of just 5.2 percent," he said.

"This is a serious imbalance that has resulted in HCMC being unable to afford public investment for its infrastructure," Nhan noted.

Including migrants, the megacity is currently home to 13 million people and is among the 20 percent of localities in Vietnam that can cover their own expenditures and contribute to the national coffers.

For years, it has been the country’s largest moneymaker. Last year, it earned more than VND378 trillion ($16.3 billion), up 8.6 percent from 2017.

Aside from the state budget contribution, Nhan highlighted some other inadequate policies that have prevented the city from thriving the way it should.

Most major projects in HCMC, the biggest in Vietnam, are put under direct management of the ministries; the city cannot execute them as it has neither financial ability nor authority, he said.

He cited as example the Ring Road No.3, HCMC wants to see it completed urgently in order to ease the city's chronic traffic congestion.

The 90km (56 miles) ring road will remove the need for vehicles to enter the inner city when they need to travel to and from the neighboring provinces like Binh Duong, Long An and Dong Nai.

This project is managed by the Ministry of Transport, which has been unable to make much progress because of a lack of funds.

Now the city wants to finish the project itself. It will use its own budget or borrow the money and ask neighboring provinces that would benefit from the project to contribute towards site clearance, which is estimated to cost VND3 trillion ($130 million).

Minister of Transport Nguyen Van The has said that he agrees with the city’s suggestion.

"If we wait until we have enough investment for site clearance, the cost (for site clearance) might go up to VND5-7 trillion," he said.

Regarding the ring road project, estimated to cost VND55.8 trillion ($2.41 billion), Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc has assigned the ministries of Transport, and Planning and Investment to swiftly complete investment procedures and report to the PM for approval.

HCMC was granted autonomous decision-making power in September 2017 to help it develop to its full potential. Accordingly, the city can raise and add additional fees and charges to regulate its residents’ behaviors and increase its budget revenue. But it is still strapped for funds for crucial projects, like the first metro line, whose contractors have threatened to stop work unless their dues for work completed are paid.

The new proposal for retaining a higher share of its revenues would buttress the city’s autonomy, and help it fund important projects to deal with the chronic problems of traffic congestion and urban flooding.

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