The Government wants to encourage public-private partnership (PPP) cooperation in infrastructure projects, Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai has said.

Hai made the statement at a pre-application conference in Hanoi on September 9 to allow potential investors to participate in the construction of the Dau Giay – Phan Thiet Expressway, the first PPP project in Vietnam.

Targeted for completion in 2019, the four-lane, 100-kilometre expressway will connect Ho Chi Minh City to the central city of Phan Thiet, significantly reducing travel time between the southern economic hub and industrial development destinations as well as tourist attractions in the central and coastal areas.

The country plans to offer many incentives to investors, including 107 million USD for land clearance, said Deputy Minister of Transport Nguyen Ngoc Dong. The shareholders will have a 30-year concession to operate the expressway, after which it will be handed to the Ministry of Transport.

Speaking at the conference, the Deputy PM made clear that the project is part of an aggressive effort to develop the country's south as an economic hub, saying he hopes that the highway will serve as a model for PPP in the future.

The multi-industry group Bitexco has already been selected by the Government and the World Bank as an investor for the 757 million USD Dau Giay – Phan Thiet Expressway Project (DPEP). Bitexco holds 60 percent equity interest in the project. The roadshow was conducted to look for a second investor to hold the remaining 40 percent equity interest in the ground-breaking infrastructure project.

"I'm pleased that the PPP model has attracted keen interest from investors around the world," said Bitexco chairman Vu Quang Hoi. "We want to attract like-minded partners who are looking at long-term strategic opportunities in transport and infrastructure development, which will contribute to Vietnam's growth."

This conference, held by the Ministry of Transport, the World Bank in Vietnam and Bitexco Group, is the fourth time the project has wooed investors. It follows the successful conclusion of roadshows in Mumbai, Seoul , and Singapore in July, which attracted a diverse mix of participants from top-tier infrastructure developers, infrastructure operators, private equity firms, global banks and other financial investors.

Mark Moseley World Bank's Task Team Leader for the project said that the "strong level of investor interest" displayed in the previous roadshows made the organisation "confident of securing the most suitable partner for Bitexco".

DPEP, he made clear, is an important project that has "chalked up impressive development in infrastructure, especially in transportation and power" in the past 20 years. He hoped that it will also "boost economic performance in the southern parts of Vietnam ".-VNA