Budget a hot topic at National Assembly

The State budget was a hot topic at yesterday's group meetings during the second session of the 13th National Assembly.

Most National Assembly (NA) deputies said some criteria in the State budget estimates were not practical.

Deputy Dinh Xuan Thao said that if the State Budget Law was not amended, it would be very difficult to build a suitable budget based on the country's real needs.

Deputies were only able to focus their discussion of the Budget Law on reported numbers, but actual spending and income had failed to meet the intended targets leading local governments to ask for more State funding.

Deputy Nguyen Ngoc Hoa said that this year's total budget spending exceeded the target which proved that fiscal policy tightening had not been well implemented. Next year, revenue could fall from the impact of crude oil prices and land use fees.

Deputy Tran Du Lich said that the method used to allocate the budget should be amended soon as it was currently equal between localities which made it difficult to minimise budget spending.

A dramatic change to the budget allocation method would require insight into Government revenues at both the central and local levels, he said. In poor provinces, public services could be subsidised by the State while wealthy provinces could use their own revenue to pay for public services. Any funds from the State budget used to finance public services must be monitored.

Budget allocation should be made clear and public at National Assembly meetings, said deputy Tran Hoang Ngan.

Appropriate budget

Due to a limited budget, the Government should identify specific areas for reasonable budget allocation, said deputy Pham Quang Nghi, adding that it should determine the most urgent issues and conduct in-depth analyses on specific areas in order to determine which provinces or sectors needed an increase or decrease in their budget allocation.

Sharing this view, deputy Dao Trong Thi proposed maintaining the budget allocation for cultural and social activities by focusing on social security, education and health care. Thi noted that some localities had not used their budget allocation properly.

For example, the State divided its human resources budget into two sections, salary and professional activities. Salaries were to make up 80 per cent of that budget while professional activities were to account for the remainder. However, in some localities, only 5 per cent of the budget was used for professional activities. Strict management and monitoring measures should be developed to ensure proper spending, he said.

If investment in professional activities was ignored, State employees would be unable to make good contributions to the country's socio-economic development, so budget allocation for salaries and professional activities should be balanced, the deputies agreed.

Trinh The Khiet said State budget allocation should be focused on the development of key transport systems, infrastructure facilities and sciences which were vital to developing the economy.

According to the 2011 State budget report, the year's total spending was estimated to exceed the target by 9.7 per cent, or VND70.4 trillion (US$3.3 billion).

Law on petitions

Later the same day, deputies discussed the draft Law on Petitions. During the discussion, most deputies agreed with amendments and supplements to the draft law proposed by the NA Standing Committee.

However, many deputies proposed the drafting committee clearly identify the powers and responsibility of designated administrative offices and agencies in settling petitions to prevent overlaps.

Deputy Ha Cong Long said the draft law should clearly identify the responsibilities for relevant agencies to help people lodge petitions.

"Administrative agencies should review their administrative decisions to make sure the decisions are in line with laws," said deputy Nguyen Thi Kim Thuy.

Deputy Ho Thi Thuy proposed the law should regulate that people would be allowed to lodge petitions against all kinds of administrative documents to protect their rights and interests.

"The draft law currently only allows people to petition administrative decisions and administrative actions by State-run administrative agencies," she said.

Some deputies proposed stricter regulations to prevent those who want to make use of petitions to slander and distort the reputation of organisations, agencies and other people.


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