Vietnam's state-owned firms found squandering government land

By Dinh Son, Thanh Nien News

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The languishing four-story office building of the state-owned Saigon Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. (SSIC) is left unused. Photo: Dinh Son

As many as 155 state-owned land plots in Ho Chi Minh City have been abandoned, Thanh Nien has found. 
The portfolio of idle real estate includes a 26,447-square-meter lot registered to the state-owned Saigon Shipbuilding Industry Co., Ltd. (SSIC) on Pham The Hien Street in District 8. 
SSIC rented out part of the land plot to a private company who has converted it into an automobile parking lot. The remaining area, which includes SSIC's abandoned four-story office building, is languishing unused. 
In September of 2013, the government accepted a proposal from the HCMC People’s Committee to allow the HCMC Power Corporation to build a transformer station on 4,680 square meters of SSIC's plot.
But the project has yet to break ground. 
The government also ordered SSIC to stop leasing out the land -- an order SSIC totally ignored. 
According to data collected by Thanh Nien, SSIC has not paid rent since 2011. 
The Saigon Industry Corporation is another state-owned company that was found squandering government land. The firm's three plots cover a total of 9,735 square meters of District 3, Binh Thanh and District 9 -- all of which are languishing, unused. 
Authorities in HCMC have repeatedly called on state-owned companies to better manage government land, but the companies usually skip the meetings that authorities set up to discuss solutions. 
Experts said state-owned companies function like the government's spoiled children; they receive a lot of incentives but do little in return. 
Instead of leasing land to these companies at very low prices, the municipal government would be better served auctioning the land or converting them to public public parks and schools, they suggested. 
The HCMC Department of Natural Resources and Environment said it proposed that the municipal government seize abandoned land or force state-owned companies to use the land for projects and raise rental charges applied to these companies based on market rates. 
Last week, Nguyen Huu Tin, deputy chairman of the HCMC People’s Committee, called for revisions to the public land use laws and summoned state-owned companies for questioning. 
He gave the companies six months to submit their solutions on land usage. If the companies fail to put forward the solutions, their land use rights will be revoked. 
As of press time, the Saigon Real Estate Corporation and the Southern Fertilizer Company have returned four abandoned land plots they managed giving the government control over 20,000 square meters of previously idle land.

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