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Vinamarine chairman says private investment in ports faces barriers   2008-06-25 - Viet Nam News

Vietnam needs to simultaneously develop its seaport system and the administration of it to further exploit the potential of its long-stretching coastal line, said an official at a seminar on State management of seaports in Hanoi yesterday.

Goods unloaded at HCM City's Cat Lai seaport, the biggest port in Vietnam.

Vuong Dinh Lam, chairman of the Viet Nam Maritime Administration (Vinamarine), said that new measures such as partially equitising port enterprises, allowing the private sector to invest in the construction of the seaport infrastructure and the operation of terminals had not been widely applied or developed which could enhance the port system.

"We have applied the public service port model, in which the State invests in the infrastructure and then assigns the ports to State-owned enterprises to manage and operate them so as to get remunerated in forms of tax and investment capital recovery," he said.

Lam admitted that such a scheme had not allowed the utilisation of potential strengths, especially the investment of non-State sector, which included joint-stock and private companies, as well as joint-ventures at home and abroad in the construction and operation of seaport infrastructure.

Management model

Across Vietnam's 3,260-km coastal line, 49 seaports are operating with 166 terminals and 300 berths. Statistics in 2007 from the Viet Nam Maritime Administration show that more than 88,000 ships were called to ports with a total cargo volume of 181 million tonnes. The administration estimated that the figures would increase to 230 million tonnes by 2010 and to 400 million tonnes by 2020.

Nguyen Ngoc Hue, deputy chairman of the Viet Nam Maritime Administration, pointed out weaknesses for the country's seaport, including the lack of a deep seaport which could receive big vessels from 50,000DWT as well as an inefficient connection between seaports system and national transport network and shallow channels.

He said that Vietnam needed lo work on a new model which would have to be more efficient in port management but also in line with the country's present socio-economic conditions.

"While we are waiting for a sufficient management model, the one being used by the Viet Nam Maritime Administration and the Maritime Port Administration can be widely applied," he said.

Japanese support

Seeing the vacuum in this area, a project on improving the port management system was set up and carried out by the Viet Nam Maritime Administration with the financial support from the Japan International Co-operation Agency in 2005. The project is expected to legalise conditions, mechanisms, constitutional arrangement, division of roles and functions among relevant parties.

As part of the project, experts from the Oversea Coastal Area Development Institute of Japan (OCDI) were sent to Vietnam to work with the Vietnamese party on improving the Viet Nam Maritime Administration management capacity.

OCDI's executive director, Hidehiko Kuroda, who is also the chief advisor of the project, said that Vietnam needed to establish a port management body; which would supervise and co-ordinate all the investment projects at each port. It would also manage concession contracts as well as port land premise and port water area of each port.

He said that under the current model in Vietnam, involving too many ministries for approval of investments and contracts would delay the development and co-ordination which would be mismatched with the master plan.

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