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Prudent public investment a must

Update: July, 24/2014 - 09:26
Dong Huu Mao, member of the National Assembly Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs. — Photo baothuathienhue

Efficient public investment helps Viet Nam become rich, Dong Huu Mao, member of the National Assembly Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs told the Thoi bao Kinh Te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economic Times)

Why is the topic of public project investment such a popular one at National Assembly meetings?

This is an issue of responsibility. Public investment, particularly in basic construction in the past few years, has caused serious anxiety in society due to its low efficiency, unfinished projects, and other reasons.

In addition, quite a few costly construction projects have been finished but are deserted due to poor construction quality or stagnation in the real estate market.

But government offices have not put the problem on the table for discussion in order to draw on lessons learned. I think it is high time for us to take action, and take responsibility for public investment.

In my opinion, we should select at random some projects having problems of low efficiency or signs of waste. These projects may have followed standard procedures, but the quality is poor. So we will look into these projects and try to find out why their quality is poor, who must take responsibility, and so forth. This is what we should do to make sure the tax payers' money is properly used. And that's our responsibility as their representatives.

As a deputy for three consecutive terms, how do you assess the National Assembly's oversight role in public investment?

In my opinion, the NA has performed its oversight role well, ensuring the money is properly and efficiently used. However, quite a few recommendations sent by the NA have not been seriously implemented by the government. A case in point is that money from the sale of government bonds - money designated for public projects - has not been used properly. We have talked about this problem many times. Yet, we have not pinpointed which agencies or individuals must take responsibility for the waste.

More serious still, authorities in some localities have deliberately used the proceeds from sales of government bonds for other purposes. For example, money earmarked irrigation works was used instead for eco-tourism. Funds meant to pay for the consolidation of a river bank were spent on city maintenance and renovations.

Though the National Assembly in 2010 adopted the Resolution 881 prohibiting an increases in the number of public investment projects and in the investment fund, in reality, the total investment had surpassed the original budget of VND 42,074 billion ($ 2 billion).

What should the National Assembly do to put back law and order in public investment?

The case of using government bond proceeds to build 12 general hospitals is a serious breach of the National Assembly's Resolution. It is important for us to look into the violation in detail, to discern at what level the government is responsible in this case, and who advised the government to make the decision.

We try to find out who takes responsibility for such wrongdoings. But not to discipline them. All we want is to draw lessons learned to avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

Viet Nam is still poor, each single dong we can save from an inefficient public investment project, it will have great significance.

How can we make the best use of the money that we save from efficient public investment projects?

For many years I have thought of the idea that the government should adopt a policy to support people having safely built houses, particularly those living in the central region which is often hit by natural disasters. I think it's time the government had a policy to help people wanting to have safely built homes. — VNS

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