Professor Nguyen Minh Thuyet, former Vice Chairman of the National Assembly Committee on Culture, Education, Youth and Children spoke to Tien Phong (Vanguard) newspaper about ODA usage.
POSCO E&C executives in charge of expressway projects in Viet Nam have been accused of creating slush funds to bribe Vietnamese contractors. Do you think this incident exposes more dark spots in Viet Nam's use of ODA?
In 2010, a bribery case involving Pacific Consultants International, a Japanese company contracted to construct the HCM City East-West Corridor, was brought to light. After the case, I questioned Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung twice during National Assembly meetings. Finally the case was settled in court. More recently, a slush fund operated by executives of POSCO Engineering&Constrcution Company for expressway projects in Viet Nam has been uncovered.
These show that Viet Nam has not learnt from the cases of bad practices in ODA management.
In your opinion, what should Viet Nam do to overcome this weakness?
Relevant agencies, including the Ministry of Transport and other government agencies that use ODA should discuss measures to stop this malpractice. We should ask ourselves why the above mentioned cases were detected by our foreign partners, and not us? It is clear that both Japan and South Korea have adopted effective measures to manage their funds and staff incomes.
To use ODA effectively, it is imperative that we impose very strict regulations on ODA borrowing. For example, we should have policies stating clearly which projects can use ODA, and attach strict conditions to them. This is a good way of effectively controlling and managing ODA.
Some economic experts have compared ODA to "an economic assassin" or "ODA trap". Do we need to make a plan to limit and then put a halt to ODA?
In reality, donor countries always attach conditions to beneficiary countries. That's why it has become normal practice for ODA providers to have the right to nominate contractors to undertake projects using their money. This practice can be interpreted in a way that they want to generate employment and create income for their own citizens and companies. Vice versa, ODA recipients also enjoy benefits, including infrastructure and economic development. What I want to point out here is that if we – an ODA recipient, don't make the best use of the ODA money, our country simply becomes a huge workshop for foreign countries to exploit for their own benefits.
What do you think about Da Nang's decision not to use ODA funds to upgrade the city's port? Is it a good example for other localities around the country?
In my opinion, it's a very good decision. It should make other localities think twice before making decisions to borrow ODA funding for development projects.
Based on recent events, do you think the National Assembly should conduct overall supervision and issue a separate law on ODA activities?
I support the idea that the NA should have the final say on projects using ODA.
In the past, the NA conducted inspections of ODA projects and detected some problems. However, the results were limited.
To avoid mismanagement of ODA, I think the Government should come up with effective measures to manage and control the use of these funds. — VNS