Dr Nguyễn Văn Thâm from the National Academy of Public Administration talks about obstacles facing the country in administrative reform through a writing to chinhphu.vn.
On May 4, 1994 then Prime Minister Võ Văn Kiệt initiated wide administrative reforms. More than 20 years have gone by, but the spirit of Resolution 38/CP on administrative reform remains important for the current Government headed by Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc.
Over the past more than 20 years, many administrative reforms have been implemented, but many hurdles have also arisen, which deeply concerns the population. These hurdles have negatively affected the people and enterprises’ production. Adding to the problem is the fact that some of our administrative reforms are quite different from those of other countries.
Legal guiding document
It should be stressed that administrative reform is part and parcel of administration law. It shows people and enterprises how to implement the law in real life. In other words, administrative reform is a guiding document for the nation’s laws.
For example, the Law on Housing has some articles on credits for affordable housing projects. Based on what is written in the Housing Law, credit organisations work out policies for people wanting to borrow money to buy their houses.
So administrative procedures or administrative institutions help show people how to implement the law. That’s why we cannot separate legal reform from administrative reform. They support each other.
But in Việt Nam, the saying “imperial power bends to suit rural customs” has become a daily practice in some localities. In my opinion, it is time to consign this saying to the past. To do that we must cultivate good relationships between the people and the administration and make our administrative procedures conform with international laws and practices.
Barriers to reforms
There are several barriers to the implementation of administrative reforms.
The first barrier is bureaucracy coupled with the cumbersome nature of the administrative system.
Second is the poor knowledge of government staff and unclear job descriptions for many of them.
In our daily life we often hear people saying “everything is done correctly according to procedures!” But seldom do people ask “are these procedures appropriate and synchronous for the running of an administrative system in a market economy and in the course of deeper international integration?”
For example, at present tens of thousands of teachers’ training college graduates cannot find jobs while many kindergartens and schools across the country don’t have enough staff. Let’s ask the question “What are specific procedures needed to overcome this problem?”
Third, we have good investment but it is often incompatible with the long term development of the nation, particularly in education, science and technology.
Last but not least, our people have poor knowledge of the law as do many government staff members. As a result, law enforcement in our country and in administrative procedures is not good enough.
It is high time for Việt Nam to take action to elevate its administrative reforms to a higher plane. If we fail to do it, we will pay a very high cost. — VNS