Taiwanese steel plant, authorities unscathed by licensing scandal

By Nguyen Dung, Thanh Nien News

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 Rescuers clear the rubble of a scaffold that collapsed on March 25 and killed 13 workers at the construction site of a steel mill-port complex being built by Taiwan’s Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation. Photo: Nguyen Dung

The Vietnamese government has permitted a Taiwanese investor to continue with a giant steel plant and port complex in the central province of Ha Tinh even after inspectors found that local authorities had exceeded their powers in licensing the project.
Vo Kim Cu, chairman of the province People’s Committee, said at a press conference that Formosa Ha Tinh Steel Corporation’s license would remain valid for 70 years.
Early last month government inspectors said the province had flouted rules by issuing a license for 70 years without the government’s approval.
The Investment Law limits foreign-invested projects to 50 years, with the government having the right to extend them by 20 years.
Inspectors also reported other wrongdoings, including during the process of clearing the project site, but it is unclear if Ha Tinh authorities’ transgressions will be sanctioned by the government.
Cu said they had already admitted their wrongdoings to the government, and pledged to correct them “earnestly”.
Work on the Formosa complex in the Vung Ang Economic Zone began in July 2008 with an initial investment of nearly $10 billion.
The construction has been hit by accidents, the latest and worst of which took place on March 25 when a scaffolding collapsed, killing 13 workers and injuring 28 others. The 25-meter-high iron structure had been put up for the construction of a breakwater to protect the port.
Last year Formosa, which had nearly 5,700 Chinese workers among its 40,000 workforce, became a target of anti-China violence triggered by China's illegal deployment of an oil rig in Vietnamese waters in on May 2.
Rioters torched, looted, and vandalized the construction site on May 14.
It left three Chinese workers dead and 149 others, both Chinese and Vietnamese, injured.

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