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Cash-Strapped Saigon Metro Project Requests $1.68m From City to Pay Staff

The management team of Saigon's ongoing metro project has requested advance funds from the city to pay employees who have only received partial salaries since January.

Tasked with constructing Saigon's perpetually delayed metro system, the Ho Chi Minh City Management Authority for Urban Railways (MAUR) recently requested VND39 billion (US$1.68 million) to pay staff to keep them motivated and able to meet daily needs. According to MAUR, its workers have only been paid part of their salary since January 31, and even then the money came from a previous advance from the city budget in 2018 and not ODA disbursement.

The dong dilemma is the latest in a series of setbacks and blunders. At the end of last year, Japanese Ambassador to Vietnam Umeda Kunio yet again warned that work on the metro would be stopped if overdue payments are not made to Japanese contractor Sumitomo Corporation. Saigon administration has since used its own money to pay Japanese staff to keep construction going.

The budget for Saigon's metro project has mushroomed from VND17.4 trillion (US$747.6 million) in 2007 when approved to VND43 trillion (US$2 billion) several years later. At the beginning of 2019, the national government approved VND52 trillion in total budget for the project, but funding is still not being disbursed fast enough.

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