Ho Chi Minh City needs US$45 billion to develop its infrastructure to sustain the growth of its population and economic activities over the next 15 years, but is struggling to find that money.
The Finance Department estimated the city will need that much for infrastructure development until 2030 to tackle urban issues such as congestion and flooding. The problem is the city's budget cannot meet this demand.
Experts said at a meeting on Thursday that infrastructure in HCMC has not received proper investment. The city's population has doubled over the past two decades to more than 8 million, but public infrastructure has not been able to catch up with the growth.
They said the city has been pouring money in ports to serve its industrial and trade activities, and yet ironically roads leading to these ports usually suffer traffic jams.
Huynh The Du, lecturer of the Fulbright Economics Teaching Program in HCMC, said the city plans to spend an amount equivalent to only 6 percent of its GDP for infrastructure development in the next five years.
That investment is too small, less than a third of what booming cities in the region like Beijing or Shanghai are spending on infrastructure, he said.
Experts said attracting funds from private investors may be the only solution. The government can also try to borrow more from its residents by issuing bonds with attractive terms and yields.