Vietnam airport plan returned for clarifications

By Thanh Nien News, TN News

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An artist's impression of Long Thanh International Airport An artist's impression of Long Thanh International Airport

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The Ministry of Planning and Investment has returned a proposal to build a controversial international airport near Ho Chi Minh City saying it is too vague and lacks certain details.
It returned the proposal on Long Thanh International Airport in Dong Nai Province to the state-owned Airports Corporation of Vietnam (ACV) last Friday, when a state assessment council chaired by investment minister Bui Quang Vinh had to vote its approval. 
If approved, the report will be submitted to the government and the National Assembly for approval next May.
But members of the council said they were not satisfied with the report since it failed to envisage the challenges that Long Thanh Airport would face if other international airports in the region upgrade their infrastructure and offer competition.
The builder also failed to spell out the difficulties in clearing the site, the largest for any project in Vietnam (more than 5,000 hectares), they said.
The report does not specify how funds would be raised for the project, they said.
The cost has been estimated at US$7.8 billion, making it the largest single project in Vietnam, Vinh said.
“If [the ACV] fails to clarify details of the project, we cannot submit it to the government and the National Assembly, especially when the country is on a tight budget,” he said.
The ACV has said it will raise funds from official development assistance loans, government bonds, and private sources, but this has been criticized by experts as being vague.
Vinh ordered the ACV to amend the report within 15 days and submit it to the council.
This is for the second time that a draft plan for the airport has been returned for clarifications.
The Long Thanh airport plan was first submitted to the Ministry of Planning and Investment last August.
In the proposal, the Ministry of Transport and the ACV said Tan Son Nhat International Airport is not designed to handle 25 million passengers annually that it is set to by 2018-20, making a new airport in Long Thanh, Dong Nai, vital.
In February the state assessment council had asked the ACV to clarify why a new airport has to be built instead of expanding Tan Son Nhat International Airport or upgrading the Bien Hoa air base.
It had also asked the ACV to clarify several other key aspects like scale, land acquisition and resettlement, and total cost.

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