Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc confirmed that the fight against corruption remained a priority in the Government's agenda during the National Assembly's question and answer session on Saturday.
The 55km-long HCM City-Long Thanh-Dau Giay Expressway, funded in part with a loan from the Asian Development Bank and Japan. The Deputy PM said at the National Assembly's question and answer session on Saturday that the Government had to be cautious about public debt management, as Viet Nam's public debt, at 62 per cent, was nearing its 65-per-cent limit. (Photo: SGGP)
He said despite recent positive results, the fight against corruption still faced numerous challenges and obstacles.
The Government has pledged to step up efforts to build institutions to prevent and control corruption, stepping up international co-operation, promoting the role of citizens and the Viet Nam Fatherland Front in the fight against corruption, and intensify inspections and audits to detect corruption cases.
Individuals and organisations involved will be prosecuted and severely punished.
In 2014, 256 corruption cases involving 593 individuals were prosecuted, a 10 per cent increase in the number of cases from the previous year.
Answering a question raised by Deputy Tran Hoang Ngan on the nation's current level of public debt, the Deputy PM said the Government had to be cautious about public debt management as Viet Nam's public debt had reached 62 per cent, with the limit set at 65 per cent.
He said the Prime Minister had issued a number of measures to improve public debt control, aiming to create and sustain a positive economic outlook to maintain creditors' confidence in the country's economic performance, as well as effectively ultilising loans.
Phuc said that the ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) and Viet Nam's integration in 2015 presented both opportunities and challenges with the improvement of the legal constitution, investment climate and economic restructuring playing important roles in the country's success.
He said the Government had set a goal of enhancing the nation's competitive environment criteria to or above the average of the ASEAN 6 countries this year. ASEAN 6 includes Brunei, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.
He stressed the need to improve the investment and business climate and stabilise the macro-economy, spurring trade associations and administrative reforms.
The Deputy PM said that given that public funding was limited, it was necessary to diversify sources of funds.
On the same issue, Deputy Nguyen Tien Sinh from Hoa Binh Province asked if the diversification of funding equated to the privatisation of transport infrastructure projects.
Phuc said that the Government would maintain strict control over infrastructure projects built under the public-private partnership model. Contractors were only allowed to collect fees for investment returns, and be transferred back under the Government's management.
He took this occasion to call upon the general public and socio-political organisations to supervise the building of transport infrastructure works, citing two examples: the Highway 1 and the Ho Chi Minh Highway.
Answering a question from Deputy Le Dac Lam from Binh Thuan Province concerning the effectiveness of the ODA funding, much of which has been invested in transport infrastructure, the Deputy PM said many of the ODA-funded projects had proved effective after they were put into use.
He said that ODA was a good source of loans, with long repayment periods and low interest rates. The only problems with the ODA-funded projects were mainly the lack of counterpart funding on Viet Nam's side and difficulty convincing residents to clear project sites.
Between 2016 and 2020, the Government plans to spend VND171 trillion (US$7.84 billion) on roads, VND44 trillion (US$2 billion) on maritime facilities, VND13 trillion (US$596 million) on inland waterway infrastructure, VND45 trillion (US$2.06 billion) on airports, and VND14 trillion (US$642 million) on train stations and warehouses.
Responding to questions on the recent, publicly protested tree-felling in Ha Noi, the Deputy PM said the city's plan lacked transparency and consent from experts, so it failed to gain the public's support.
"The Government appreciated the city authority's response, in which it disciplined individuals and organisations involved in the tree felling," he said.
Regarding the filling of the southern Dong Nai River, one of the longest rivers in Viet Nam, he said the Government sent an inter-agency task force and the NA Committee on Science, Technology and Environment to inspect the project on-site.
The task force recommended the project be put on hold so its affects on the waterway and residents' livelihood could be studied.
The Deputy PM's answers concluded the televised several-days-long NA Q&A session.
Viet Nam's National Assembly convenes twice a year, one in summer and the other in winter, each time lasting a month or so.
This time, Cabinet members grilled before the NA received nearly 200 questions from deputies.