Encouraging rational decision-making is a strong feature of the 2014 Law on Public Investment, Dao Quang Thu, Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment, tells the Viet Nam & World Economic Affairs newspaper.
The 2014 Law on Public Investment went into effect on January 1. What are some things that have been improved from the previous law?
In my opinion, the 2014 Law on Public Investment can be considered a revolution in the management of public investment. The law provides a consistent legal framework on the management and use of public investment resources, and on overcoming constraints created by the previous public investment law.
The new law has some strengths, including preventing entities from making casual, subjective decisions. As we all know, public investment uses taxpayers' money. So investment regulations must be tight and strict, and follow prescribed administrative procedures. For example, the first chapter of the law covers rights and obligations of Government agencies and offices, particularly individuals engaged in public investment projects.
Another progressive point in the 2015 law is that it will help eliminate the problem of fragmented, wasteful and delayed completion of projects. The law also gives specific procedures for all projects. Lessons learned from the past show that projects weren't evaluated enough to see if they were necessary or not. As a result, a lot of taxpayer money was wasted.
The law also emphasises a pre-requisite in which entities must have money available to implement the project and show the project's priority level as it is prescribed in the Public Investment Law.
I'm confident that if all ministries, sectors and localities strictly abide by the law, public investment projects will be implemented efficiently and successfully.
The midterm investment plan is considered a breakthrough in the 2014 Public Investment Law. What's your position on this?
I can't agree more. The development of a midterm investment plan is a new and important part of the law. Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung on August 5 issued Instruction 23/CT-TTG on the development of a midterm investment plan between 2016 and 2020. In addition, the Ministry of Planning and Investment also issued instructions to ministries, sectors and localities on how to write proposals for their investment plan projects between 2016 and 2020. So, the midterm investment plan will help them avoid having to make annual plans, as in the past.
Another very important point contained in the new law is that all midterm investment plans must be approved by the 2015 year-end meeting of the National Assembly.
In my opinion, the midterm plan will help ministries, sectors and localities be proactive in developing their plans, with the objective of creating strong links between public investment plans and other socio-economic development plans in the next five years. This is a good and progressive model that helps us use our limited resources efficiently.
What are your thoughts on the law's information disclosure and surveillance requirements?
Information disclosure is an important requirement written in the 2015 Law on Public Investment. Article 14 contains 10 sections on transparency and accountability. Also, Article 82 talks about the role community surveillance plays in public investment projects.
Under Article 82, Viet Nam Fatherland Front is the focal point in organising community surveillance on public investment projects. For major projects that require resettlement or have strong environmental impacts, project owners must hold consultations with the affected people during the development stage, and before implementation.
How will the law impact the current public investment restructuring process and the implementation of other laws?
Here, I just want to emphasis that the enactment of the 2015 Public Investment Law is one of several steps in the investment restructuring process. To help implement the Law on Public Investment, it is important to strictly abide by other laws related to it. For example, the law talks about midterm public investment, which relates closely to the State Bank of Viet Nam (SBV).
That's why when the SBV amends its Budget Law, it is imperative that the law have article on midterm financial plans to keep it in line with the Law on Public Investment.
Last but not least, the Public Investment Law aims to manage capital resources, to make sure they are properly and efficiently used. Of course, to make public investment projects as efficient as possible, project owners must follow all required procedures written in the Construction Law. — VNS