Friday, May 28, 2010

Vietnam Invests in Non-Urgent, Grandiose Projects

Ninety billion US dollars for infrastructure projects in the 'Expanding Hanoi' scheme; and more than 55 billion dollars for the construction of the high speed North -- South railways. This massive amount of capital investment is planned for these grand projects in the next few years, in comparison to Vietnam's Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is currently only at approximately $100 billion.

Strong and Aggressive Campaign
There are many other projects and schemes, some very urgent with apparent outcomes, that are in need of capital investment and have yet found a funding source. Some of these projects are the metro system in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City; the North-South high speed road; Long Thanh international airport, and Van Phong international container transshipment port. For some unknown reasons, there seems to be a strong and aggressive campaign from relating departments and industries for those two grand projects to pass. Aiming for this purpose, people are putting forward all kinds of reasoning, such as let's just agree on the urgent necessity of the project first, then other factors such as the project efficiency, implementation and where the funding source come from can be discussed later. While in practice, an investment process should have been the reverse.

It is because whether these grandiose projects are implemented or not, it is not the same as when one buys a bunch of vegetables or a kilogram of fish. It requires a thorough study of the feasibility in terms of economic efficiency, repayment ability as well as the owner of the technology, and above all, affordability is the security of national finance.

Necessary To Prioritize Investments
Every body knows that to implement grand projects such as those mentioned above, foreign debts cannot be considered because of the limited capacity of the current national financial situation. Moreover, current government's debts have almost exceeded the safety threshold, while the budget deficit is still growing strongly. In the circumstances of very limited national finance capacity, everyone understands that it is necessary to prioritize investments for projects that can bring the fastest economic efficiency as well as rapid returns, otherwise the burden of national debts would be too overbearing for future generations.

Considering these criteria, those grandiose projects pose immediate problems on their effectiveness and feasibility. Many delegates from the National Assembly have frankly expressed their concerns about the economic burden and the financial security of the nation, should these two super projects be implemented.

Corporations for Investments
The question is: Why is it that those projects are still being interpreted as urgent projects for the economy? The answer does not lie anywhere else, but in the thirst for capital investment and local benefits of economic corporations, of the State's mother company and possibly for the benefit of certain groups. Corporations always crave for investments to feed themselves, and most of the time without any consideration for the overall interests of national economy.

However, the fact that projects such as these are put forward to Congress for discussion, people have the right to hope that delegates would actually consider for the common interests of the economy as a whole, and for the benefits of people at the present and also in the future, therefore, would refuse the thirst of benefit groups and corporations for investments. Otherwise, the loss will be bear by the economy as a whole, while the benefit would go to a minority of corporations regardless of the risk on the security of the national finance.

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