Nguyen Van Phuc, Vice Chairman of the NA Committee on Economic Affairs spoke to the Tin Tuc newspaper on the sidelines of the National Assembly meeting about the serious problem of loss and waste in Viet Nam's economy.
What is your assessment of the problem of loss and waste in Viet Nam?
The problem of loss and waste in our country has become a chronic disease. There are many sea ports, airports or border economic zones that are causing serious losses to the national economy.
Viet Nam has become a mid income nation, but the percentage of poor households is still high, particular those living in remote regions. In a mountainous province quite a few big roads with 40-60 metres wide were built, but only a few vehicles can be seen using these roads.
Recently some provinces have asked the central government to give them a budget to build a big square or a huge administrative centre!
According to the Ministry of Industry and Trade, between 5-6 per cent of total output is reported lost in open coal mining pits while the figure is about 24-26 per cent in underground coal mines.
The report also shows that the post harvest loss of rice output in 2014 was about 10 per cent.
During the on going full house meeting of the National Assembly, deputies have talked quite a lot about the serious problem of loss and waste. But, I'm afraid to say, in their reports at the NA meetings, topics on loss and waste were very blurry. A case in point was in an NA meeting two years ago, deputy Do Van Duong sent his question about the issue to many addresses, but he received feed back from only five State Corporations and seven localities.
During the recent Q&A session at the National Assembly you asked three ministers – Ministry of Planning and Investment; Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Construction whether losses and waste could be quantified, how did they respond?
Well, with the Minister of Planning and Investment, I was happy with just a part of his answer. But the other two ministers, I'm afraid to say "no."
In Viet Nam, the Law on Thrift Practice and Waste Combat was first approved in 2005 and was revised in 2014. Article 3 of the law states is very clear on thrift practices and waste combating. Under the law, the Ministry of Finance has to periodically report on the implementation of the law to the government. It is the government's responsibility to present an annual report to the full house meeting of the National Assembly on this matter. Article 56 in our Constitution also says a lot about the thrift practices and waste combating.
To prepare for the recent Q&A session, from October 5, 2015 I sent letters to 19 ministries and government agencies, including the Ministry of Planning and Investment and the Ministry of Construction. But, 45 days later, I received feed back from only 13 ministries and agencies. In their reports, most of them told me that it was difficult to quantify loss and waste.
However, according to a report from the State Audit, in the period from 2011-2014, the agency petitioned the government to hand out administrative fines of VND75,879 billion (US$3.37 billion). But in reality, only 63.25 per cent of the fines were paid!
Meanwhile, according to Government Inspection, in the period from 2011-September 2015, some VND74.576 billion ($3.32 billion) was wrongly spent. But only about 53.37 per cent of this was recovered.
In your opinion, what should the Government and the NA do to solve the problem of loss and waste?
The most important tool is the strict implementation of the Law on Thrift Practice and Waste Combat.
One of the measures to implement the law is that the Ministry of Finance will implement a new policy on public procurement. Under the new law, the procurement will be done by appointed government agencies depending on the goods that are going to buy. For example, one agency will be in charge of buying automobiles, while another will be in charge of buying computers.
Hopefully, the new policy will help Viet Nam reduce loss and waste in public procurement. — VNS