State investor cops flak for abandoning highway project in northern Vietnam

Thanh Nien News

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The construction site of the Bac Giang-Lang Son Highway in northern Vietnam. Photo credit: Bao Dau Tu The construction site of the Bac Giang-Lang Son Highway in northern Vietnam. Photo credit: Bao Dau Tu


Transport officials are considering punitive measures for a unit of the sovereign fund SCIC after it made a quick exit from a VND12-trillion-plus (US$528.9 million) highway project soon after construction began. 
In a letter to the transport ministry, the Traffic Safety Projects Management Unit proposed SCIC Investment being banned from future public projects, news website Bao Dau Tu reported on Monday.
The agency made the proposal after the company received permission to withdraw from a joint-venture behind the 63.8-kilometer highway, which will connect the northern provinces of Bac Giang and Lang Son.
Originally consisting of six state-owned companies, the joint-venture was tasked with developing the project under a built-operate-transfer agreement with the Ministry of Transport.
But only one month after work on the highway began in July, the SCIC subsidiary asked to be pulled from the project. It cited "external factors" and "hurdles in legal procedures," saying that they could affect the project's progress, the website reported.
The company's claim was dismissed as "unreasonable" by an official who oversees public-private partnership projects. 
Even though its withdrawal has not affected the project financially, it has created unnecessary paperwork, the unnamed official was quoted as saying by Bao Dau Tu.
The ministry should consider a possible ban for SCIC Investment company, he said.
In a statement about the case, the Department of Public Procurement under the Ministry of Planning and Investment also voiced its support for the proposed ban, the news website reported.
The department was quoted as saying that SCIC Investment needs to be punished for its failure to fulfill its commitment so that similar cases will not happen. 

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