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Asian dilemma: How to fund big projects

Creative solutions are being explored to pay for infrastructural projects without breaking the bank or inviting a public backlash

A toll station in southern Vietnam recently roused so much unhappiness that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc ordered its operations to be suspended. The station in Tien Giang province had been erected on an existing trunk road, to allow a company to cover the $76 million cost of resurfacing a highway and building a bypass. Angry drivers paid the toll in 200-dong (1 Singapore cent) notes, causing tailbacks stretching several kilometres.

The episode brought home a dilemma facing governments in Asia: How do you fund much-needed infrastructure projects without overburdening the populace, and yet not choke on debt?

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 15, 2018, with the headline 'Asian dilemma: How to fund big projects'. Subscribe