Legislators Want to Improve ODA Management

The ongoing National Assembly (NA) sitting discussed various ways to improve the poor management of official development assistance (ODA) in Viet Nam on May 17. Following are what NA deputies said on the sidelines.

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Tran

Mr. Nguyen Ngoc Tran, deputy chief of the NA Foreign Affairs Committee 

People want Finance Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung to explain his ministry’s responsibility in managing ODA before he leaves his current position. Meanwhile, Minister for Planning and Investment Vo Hong Phuc made simple issues complicated when explaining the use of ODA capital. If we do not pay the ODA debts today, the price for our next generation to pay will be very high.

According to the five-year plan until 2010, the total investment is estimated at VND2,200 trillion, equal to US$140 billion. Let say foreign sources will cover 35% of the figure, we need US$49 billion from overseas, including ODA. Given the current use and management of ODA, I want Minister Phuc to clarify how to handle ODA in the next five years.

It is expected that Viet Nam’s per capita income would be US$1,050-1,100 by 2010 and Viet Nam will have escaped status of a low-income country. A question is whether ODA borrowing will end by 2010, and I think this is a big problem. The Government has to work out a well-prepared financial strategy.

Mr. Tao Huu Phung

Mr. Tao Huu Phung, deputy head of the NA Economic and Budget Committee

I think that beside ODA capital, the use and management of State funds and capital from Government bonds is also poor and the Ministry of Planning and Investment has to share the blame.

I would like to suggest some solutions for a better use and management of ODA capital in the coming time.

First, ODA capital funding needs to be incorporated into the State's Budget, and its investment plans must be submitted to the National Assembly for approval every year, together with the State budget. The ODA management and accounting must be governed by the State Budget Law.

Second, the Government needs to promptly amend the ODA management regulations to match them with the Investment Law, the Tender Law, the Construction Law, the Law on Signing and Executing International Treaties, which the National Assembly has passed. Notably, the NA needs to issue an ODA management law as soon as possible.

Third, the Government should build strong legal framework and clearly define areas of responsibility for those in charge of making investment decisions. Individuals making wrong decisions in investment resulting in waste, losses to the State should face administrative disciplines, criminal charges, dismissal, or be forced to resign. The project owner must be responsible for the effectiveness and quality of the project and put an end to the practice of assigning project management tasks to unqualified, incompetent and inept staff.  The project owner has to regularly check and supervise project management units .

Fourth, the Ministry of Planning and Investment needs to come up with a suitable business model to manage ODA properly. The model must clarify the professional roles of project management units in transparent legal terms, as opposed to the murky closed door internal affairs. In addition, the Ministry of Finance needs to improve its supervision and inspection on the quality of ODA-funded projects.

Fifth, the State auditing agency and financial inspection agencies need to work harder and more regularly to be able to detect, disclose and prevent wrongdoings.

Mr. Mai Quoc Binh

Mr. Mai Quoc Binh, deputy Government general inspector

To check on the use and management of ODA capital, the Government inspection agency will set up three inspection teams to work at the Ministry of Transport, the Ministry of Agriculture Rural Development, and the province home to ODA-funded projects. The ministries will pick what projects for inspection. The ministries have given us a list of hundreds of works for inspection, and the Ministry of Transport has more.

There are some concerns that it is not objective for the ministries to decide which works are chosen for inspection. But we have decided to make long term inspection of many, many works. We will even look back at those already-probed works to find any new details. The point here is that the Government inspection agency used to be an outsider in previous probes of ODA-funded projects, but the Government has now engaged us in a special inspection of ODA-funded projects.

Reported by staff writers – Translated by Tuong Thuy

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