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HCM City orders probe into $400mil healthcare project   2009-11-03 - Viet Nam News

The HCM City Planning and Investment Department was asked last week to submit within five days the results of its investigation of the Hi-Tech Healthcare zone in Binh Tan District, which has been delayed for more than a year.

Nguyen Trung Tin, HCM City People's Committee deputy chairman, said the investor is Hoa Lam-Shangri-La Healthcare Ltd Co, a joint-venture between Hoa Lam Services Ltd Co and Singapore's Shangri-La Healthcare Investment Pte Ltd.

After receiving a licence from the city government, the company held a groundbreaking ceremony on October 9 last year.

The US$400 million project on 42 hectares of land was scheduled to include two hospitals, an institution for medical sciences and technology, a three-star hotel with a conference centre, a dorm for experts and patients' family members, a trade centre and an international primary school.

The company expected to complete the first phase of the project, a 250-bed hospital, in 2010 or 2011. The second phase was to be included in 2017, with a total of 1,700 beds and services for 45,000 boarding and 30,000 non-boarding patients a year.

The proposal to create a hi-tech healthcare zone in Binh Tan District originated in 1997, and in 2001 the health department approved the construction of eight state-of-the-art hospitals. But authorities representing all of the city's hospitals that agreed to the project backed out in 2006 because of a lack of capital.

In 2007, city authorities agreed to hand over the land to Hoa Lam Services and asked for a feasibility study. After the study was submitted to authorities, the city government gave Hoa Lam a license to proceed with the project.

However, according to local residents interviewed at the site, the only structure on the land is a very small building, surrounded by uncut grass. Families nearby now use the grassy field for goat grazing.

On September 30, district authorities received a document from the company asking them to help upgrade the road leading to the project land's gate, said Cao Van Phan, the district's chairman. "But we share no responsibility for monitoring this project since it is under the management of the city People's Committee," he said.

The company's office cannot be found in District 3's Ward 4, the location that was registered with the city's planning and investment department, the Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper has reported. A local bank is now renting the office in the building.

Another address, in District 1's Ben Thanh Ward, was later listed in the public telephone directory 1080, but a housecleaner on Tuesday at the rented office said the company had moved several days ago.

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