ADB lends Vietnam $176 mln to develop border towns

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The Asian Development Bank has agreed to lend Vietnam US$176 million to improve its infrastructure, as well as food safety and HIV/AIDS prevention measures at border towns.

Vietnamese central bank governor Nguyen Van Binh signed the contracts Thursday. The money expected to help Vietnam implement public-private partnerships in infrastructure projects; enhance competitiveness, sanitation, and control the HIV risks of people living in border areas.

One of the contracts, worth $20 million, will fund studies and other preparation activities to increase private sector investment in infrastructure.

Official figures showed that Vietnam will need $160 billion by 2020 to sufficiently develop its infrastructure, including transport systems, bridges, power plants, water supply networks and waste treatment plants, ports and shipping. Without help from the bank, domestic funds and official foreign assistance would only meet half of the demand.

A $130 million loan will be used to develop three Vietnamese border towns into economic hubs by improving the urban-environmental infrastructure and training and equipping local authorities for better management capabilities.

Such towns include Lao Bao in central Vietnam that neighbors Laos, the nearby Dong Ha, which is part of the East-West Economic Corridor between Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam, and Moc Bai near Ho Chi Minh City that borders Cambodia.

Better development at border areas can help draw more foreign private investment to infrastructure projects in Vietnam, the Manila-based bank said in a press release.

As more foreigners, including tourists, are expected to arrive in Vietnam via upgraded border towns, the banks also lend $11 million to implement surveillance and inspection programs pertaining to food safety, and $15 million to control the spread of HIV/AIDS, which is prevalent among Vietnam's 15 border provinces.

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