Mega project invites domestic investors to bid hinh anh 1Illustrative image (Photo: VNA)
Hanoi (VNS/VNA) - The mega infrastructure project North-South Expressway has started inviting domestic enterprises to apply for bidding, a month after the Ministry of Transport ruled foreign companies ineligible to participate in the project.

Phung Tuan Son, head of the Economy and Planning Division of the Thang Long Project Management Board which oversees the expressway's Phan Thiet-Dau Giay road section, told media on October 21 that seven investors had expressed interest in the sub-project.

The Thang Long Management Board, along with other seven management boards in charge of the eight sub-projects of the expressway, began selling bid application forms to interested investors on October 17.

Deputy Director of the Ministry of Transport’s Public-Private Partnership Department Nguyen Viet Huy said the expressway had attracted several Vietnamese firms looking to participate in the projects.

The Project Management Board No 2, for example, managed to sell four application forms to potential investors of the section of National Highway 45-Nghi Son in less than four hours since the sale opened, Huy told the media.

The Project Management Board No 6, which oversees the Nghi Son-Dien Chau and Dien Chau-Bai Vọo sections, said each project already had four application forms sold in the first day of sales.

“The selling of application forms will last for a month, ending on November 11, and it’s expected there will be more investors interested in the projects,” he added.

The Ministry of Transport in late September reversed its decision to allow foreign companies to participate in bidding for eight sub projects and restricted bidding to Vietnamese enterprises.

The ministry explained the move aimed to "bring out the domestic strength", adding that it also took into account security and national defence when organising the bids.

Huy said the ministry had to loosen some of its criteria to attract more Vietnamese companies to bid.    

Potential investors which were partly foreign-owned companies were still allowed to take part, Huy said, under the condition that the percentage of the companies’ shares under foreign ownership doesn't exceed 51 percent.

The rule was designed to widen the investor pool as many Vietnamese companies were already listed and had their shares bought by foreign entities, he added.

After receiving all the applications, the ministry would hold the first round of selecting investors in February next year, and another round of bidding application is expected in April, Huy said.

“If everything goes smooth, the bidding work to choose investors can wrap up in November 2020.”

Huy, however, remained cautious whether Vietnamese companies had the ability to pull off the project.

“If we can’t pick investors, the Ministry of Transport will report to the Government and the National Assembly to switch the investment model (from public-private partnership, or PPP) to public investment,” he said.

The expressway has a total of 11 sub-projects for investment. Of which, three are under public investment while eight are up for the PPP model. The transport ministry has estimated the cost for all projects at 118 trillion VND (5.1 billion USD)./.