That was suggested by Mr. Le Nguyen Minh Quang, head of the Management Board of Urban Railways (MAUR), at a meeting with the city People’s Committee on socioeconomic conditions yesterday, when many NA deputies expressed concern about capital shortage for the project.
Many deputies agreed with Mr. Quang's suggestion.
According to him, the first underground stretch of the metro route from Saigon Opera House to Ba Son station will be built at the end of October this year. It is expected to come into operation by the end of 2020.
The project has the total capital of US$2.5 billion from loans by Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The funds was approved in 2011 according to right order and procedures, said Mr. Quang.
The Prime Minister approved the report of the project's construction investment by Vietnam Railway Authority under the Ministry of Transport in 2006. Total investment capital was VND17 trillion ($748.32 million) at that time.
Because consultant firm was inexperienced so the total investment capital was then adjusted to VND47 trillion ($2.09 billion).
Afterwards, HCMC hired Singaporean independent consulting firms to assess and determine the number. Basing on that, the city submitted the adjusted funds to the Prime Minister. Relevant ministries and agencies gave their opinions about that. Of these, the Ministry of Planning and Investment permitted to change the total investment capital as per the proposal by HCMC.
In August 2011, the Prime Minister agreed to permit HCMC to approve the adjusted funds. So far, loan amount for the project has neared VND32 trillion ($1.41 billion).
However, the project's construction has been congested as the Ministry of Planning and Investment said that the amended funds is very large but investment policy has not been approved by the National Assembly.
According to Resolution 49/2010 of the NA, projects with the total investment capital of over VND35 trillion must be approved by the NA.
Before changing the investment capital, the HCMC People’s Committee proposed the Ministry of Planning and Investment to assign it to temporarily approve the total investment capital and report the NA Standing Committee about the change in May 2011.
HCMC has sent sufficient reports to the Ministry of Transport annually and authorized by the Prime Minister to report to the National Assembly, said Mr. Quang.
To solve difficulties for the project, Mr. Quang proposed the HCMC NA Deputies Delegation to prose the Prime Minister to submit the issue to the NA to decide total investment capital.
In short term, he suggested the delegation to prose the PM to instruct the Ministry of Planning and Investment to work with the Ministry of Finance to advance on mid-term capital planned for the phase 2016-2020 to pay contractors in 2017 and 2018.
In long term, the delegation should propose the PM to require relevant agencies to disburse official development (ODA) source in accordance with project progress and loan agreements. This aims to contribute in boosting the project’s progress, improve investment efficiency and prevent relevant consequences from occurring.
Sharing the same view, deputy Tran Hoang Ngan, director of HCMC Cadre Academy, said that the Government sent two reports about the project to the NA in 2011 and 2012 but it now still meets with procedure problems. So it is needed to review to know if the NA has approved the reports.
The HCMC NA Deputies Delegation should send a collective document to the NA Standing Committee proposing it to reconsider the issue, he said. Vietnam has got foreign loans so the project must be implemented, he added.
Deputy Truong Trong Nghia said that if the capital adjustment was objective, reasonable, for the benefit of HCMC and the country, it must be passed. HCMC NA deputies together would propose the NA to consider and approve.
Deputy Pham Phu Quoc, director general of HCMC Finance and Investment State-owned Company (HFIC), said that HCMC should invite the consulting firm who proposed the initial total investment capital of VND17 trillion to estimate the project to prove the central government that the capital adjustment is convincible and reasonable.