Increasing expenditures in state-budget invested projects: Whose pockets money from overspending?

Most investment projects with state budget capital in Vietnam often take an unusually long time and increase capital. This is a constant refrain that has no end.

It is not new that state officials and businesses collude to manipulate the country’s economy and siphon off national assets through price gouging.

Lao Dong Newspaper reported on April 18 “The project in Quang Ngai, from investment capital of VND60 billion rose to VND1.5 trillion.” The report talked about increased investment capital of the Tra Khuc River downstream dam project increased 25 times from the initial approved of VND60 billion. Not only that, the rainwater and wastewater collection and treatment system project in Quang Ngai also had its investment level increased from VND300 billion to VND1 trillion.

This information made the public immediately think of the scandal of Phuc Son Group and Hau Phao. This group used money to bribe numerous  leading officials in Quang Ngai. What does this have to do with the fact that the Ministry of Public Security and Minister To Lam have recently been “scrutinizing” very carefully the construction investment projects of this province in the past.

The investment project to build the southern shore along the Tra Khuc river – a nearly 9km long road, has caused many leaders and former leaders of Quang Ngai to be arrested for the crimes of “Receiving bribes,” “Violating bidding regulations and causing serious consequences.” Among them, former State President Vo Van Thuong, through relatives, accepted bribes of up to VND64 billion to build his ancestral temple in his hometown of Vinh Long.

Or previous information from the Portrait of Power page, in early 2015, it was revealed “Mr. Nguyen Hoa Binh and his son Nguyen Tuan Anh own 8 domestic businesses, including 5 businesses in Quang Nam province.” Notably, Nguyen Hoa Binh’s family contributed business capital to the businesses mentioned above, initially only with “political capital” without contributing money.

This shows that leaders in localities across the country in general and Quang Ngai province in particular, through backyard businesses, intentionally raise the amount of capital generated, which is understandable.

Unlike former State President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, after losing his position, Vo Van Thuong did not appear in public events. Meanwhile, Phuc still firmly resides in the capital Hanoi, and still participates in political activities as a former state leader. Experts say that Thuong wants to avoid, does not want to appear to make Lam “itchy” and cause more trouble.

Especially at the present time, the head of the Communist Party of Vietnam – General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong is under attacks from many directions while Minister of Public Security To Lam being the general commander of the internal fighting under the name of anti-corruption affairs. Anything can happen to Vo Van Thuong.

Ignoring issues related to the current power struggle, public opinion believes that the situation of overcapitalization in projects using state capital is extremely common. Almost every official has a “backyard business” and in principle, officials with higher rank have stronger backyard.

Dr. Nguyen Quang A shared with Radio Free Asia (RFA), saying that this is not a new phenomenon, but this problem has existed for a very long time. Talking about why this situation exists, Mr. Quang A explained:

“When state officials want to smuggle state money to their backyard businesses or their side businesses, they raise the production costs. State-owned enterprises join hands with private companies to reap huge illegal profits. But without the ‘green light’ from senior leaders, who can do it?”

Regarding the source of this problem, experts say that this is due to the absence of people’s supervision. And this is a paradox that needs to be resolved immediately. Taxes are paid by the people, but the people are not allowed to have opinions, so officials are free to waste money and raise prices to profit.

Public opinion believes that construction investment projects with budget capital in general have a great impact and influence on people’s trust in the government. If a strict enough sanction is applied and resolutely punishes corrupt acts, then surely the above situation will be significantly reduced.

State officials and businesses are partnering to corrupt state assets and budgets widely today./.


Tra My –