Inspectors indict Vietnam telco for gross inefficiency

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Many of the state-owned Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group's projects are unprofitable, including the country's first satellite, government inspectors said.

Vinasat-1 was launched in 2008 at a cost of over VND3.8 trillion (US$178.37 million), but has made losses of VND1.58 trillion ($74.5 million), some VND329 billion ($15.4 million) more than projected, they said at a press conference last Friday.

Vinasat-2, which went into orbit in 2012 at a cost of VND5.4 trillion ($253.47 million), was also suffering losses.

They were among "big-ticket" but inefficient projects that VNPT undertook between 2006 and 2011.

Many of its projects were behind schedule by seven to eight months on average, which had led to increased costs and reduced effectiveness.

Laying a north-south undersea communication cable using official development assistance of nearly VND3 trillion ($140.82 millin)had been delayed by nearly 10 years.

This happened because VNPT did not follow regulations while surveying, designing, and estimating the cost of the project between 2004 and 2007.

It also failed to "strictly" follow procedures in several other projects, which resulted in squander.

Some projects were suspended for being ineffective like Cityphone, a limited-range mobile service that VNPT launched in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2002-03. When the service was wound up in 2010, losses and assets that were not fully depreciated totaled VND168.5 billion ($7.9 million).

The group's investments in companies not in its core business of telecommunication had yielded limited returns, inspectors said.

By the end of 2011 the group had sunk VND3.2 trillion ($150.2 million)in 86 businesses, of which 20 had not made profits.

VNPT also failed to comply with the government's order to pull out of 11 companies in non-core businesses.

The government needed to spell out the accountability of the company's executives related to violations and shortcomings in management and use of funds and assets, according to inspectors.

The government needed to collect more than VND105 billion ($4.9 million) in taxes that the group and its subsidiaries failed to pay, they said.

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