Multi-billion dollar projects, approved in 'red-carpet' period, lose licenses
After joining WTO, Vietnam laid the red carpet out to welcome foreign investors with huge investment projects worth billions of dollars. But some of these projects never started or have lost licenses.
In September 2008, the Ninh Thuan provincial People’s Committee granted investment license to the Ca Na steel complex developed by Vietnam’s Vinashin and Malaysia’s Lion Group which had registered capital of $9.8 billion.
The project, which aimed to build a complex to churn out 4.5 million tons of hot rolled coil steel a year, kicked off in November 2008. However, just two years later, the local authorities had to release a decision to revoke an investment license after discovering that the investor did not have financial capability.
Ca Na was one of the projects in the ‘FDI golden age’ when 11 multi-billion dollar projects were licensed with total registered capital reaching a record high of $64 billion.
Many of the 11 projects have seen investment licenses revoked. These included the Thu Thiem Software Park project capitalized at $1.2 billion, and the culture park registered by Good Choice USA-Vietnam capitalized at $1.3 billion.
Meanwhile, the $4.3 billion New City in Phu Yen province, a high-end tourism complex registered by New City Group from Brunei in 2008, has been going at a ‘snail’s pace’.
In 2012, PTT, the Thai oil & gas group, stirred up the public when announcing a plan to develop an oil refinery in Nhon Hoi Economic Zone in Binh Dinh province with estimated capital of $28-30 billion.
However, no further move has been taken by the investor in the last four years to implement the project. PTT in July 2016 reported the delay of the project implementation because Saudi Aramco, a partner, had withdrawn from the project.
There were also three other huge projects registered in the FDI golden age 2008-2009. These included the $4.15 billion ecotourism complex in Quang Nam province, the $2 billion Nhon Trach Berjaya City and the $1.68 billion project registered by Galileo Investment Group. However, all of them have been declared dead.
The right to say ‘no’
Local authorities have been reminded that they have the right to say ‘no’ to unrealistic projects and projects which may cause pollution.
Experts and environmentalists have voiced their concern about the billions of dollars worth of investment capital from China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and South Korea flowing to textile and dying projects in Vietnam.
Nguyen Mai, chair of the Vietnam Foreign Invested Enterprises Association, commented that Vietnam has the right to choose investors who develop projects that fit Vietnam’s economic development strategies and refuse those who cannot.
Luong Bang, VNN