Despite significant growth in disbursement of ODA (official development assistance) loans from Japan in recent years, the work has been hindered by site clearance-related issues, the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) has said.

Speaking at a press meeting in Hanoi on Jan 13, the chief representative of JICA in Vietnam , Tsuno Monotori, said disbursement of Japan 's ODA loans for Vietnam amounted to 90 billion yen (690 million USD) in 2010 fiscal year and was likely to be 95 billion yen (725 million ) in the 2011 fiscal year ending March 2012.

"We've wished to boost co-operation with Vietnamese partners to speed up the delayed projects (funded by Japan 's ODA loans)," Monotori was quoted by the Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper as saying.

He said total ODA loans from Japan for projects in Vietnam in the 2011 fiscal year is expected to exceed the record of 150 billion yen (1.5 billion USD at the then exchange rate) provided by the Japanese Government in 2009.

In 2011, significant achievements were attained in projects funded by Japanese ODA, such as the HCM City East-West Highway Project, including the Thu Thiem Tunnel under Sai Gon River that opened to traffic in November 2011.

"The 1.5 billion USD ODA loans from Japan for Vietnam in the fiscal year 2011 is testimony to the enhanced strategic partnership (between Japan and Vietnam ) that was affirmed during the official visit made by PM Nguyen Tan Dung to Japan in 2011," said Monotori.

He said necessary formalities has been performed in preparation for the signing of contracts for ODA loans for Vietnam in March 2012. These include loans for the Hoa Lac Hi-tech Park, the T2 Terminal at Noi Bai Airport , the construction of National Highway No 3, and projects of afforestation and upgrading provincial and regional hospitals.

According to Nguyen Phu Binh, former Ambassador of Vietnam in Japan, these ODA loans amount to 1.2 billion USD, bringing total amount of Japanese ODA loans to Vietnam in the 2011 fiscal year (ending March 2012) to a record high of 2.4 billion USD.s

As Vietnam has become a middle-income country, Japan will like to focus on the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) investment model over others that have been tried thus far.

The projects for developing infrastructure facilities at the Lach Huyen Port in the north, including those to build approach roads and piers at the port, will be funded by Japanese ODA loans while the port equipment will be acquired with capital raised by Japanese and Vietnamese companies.

In 2011, JICA studied the feasibility for 10 PPP projects in Vietnam including infrastructure for the Long Thanh International Port in Dong Nai Province , the Urban Railway Project in Hanoi and the Hanoi Water Supply Project.

"Through the PPP investment model, Japan and Vietnam can become equal partners in mutually assiting each other for development," Lao Dong quoted Motoroni as saying.

However, Japan will continue to provide ODA loans to meet Vietnam 's demand for infrastructure development, he said.

To catch up with other middle-income nations, Vietnam needs to make great efforts in policy making, infrastructure development, and human resources development, Motoroni added./.