by Hong Minh
Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung's decision to dismiss Chairman of Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) Dao Van Hung earlier this month addressed public concerns about who was responsible for the group's losses.
During the past week, news about the dismissal has filled the headlines, and a brief explanation was delivered by Chairman of the Government Office Vu Duc Dam at a press conference.
The reason for the dismissal, according to Dam, was the poor business decisions that had led to serious losses for the group. Under Hung's reign from 2007, the group suffered losses of trillions of dong at EVN Telecom. This company was then transferred to the military-run telecom group Viettel.
EVN was also reported to have invested more than VND2.1 trillion (US$100 million) in sensitive and non-core businesses, including in financing, banking and securities. This foray outside of its core business gained almost nothing from the substantial investments made.
Last year, the group posted a loss of VND 3.5 trillion ($176 million), not to mention its debts of VND15 trillion ($714.2 million) to the Viet Nam Oil and Gas Group and Viet Nam National Coal and Mineral Industries Group.
The public welcomed the Prime Minister's decision, saying it reflected a strong determination by the Government leader to identify the wrongdoing of an individual at a national economic group. The nation's first equitised economic groups, which shifted to a business model in 2005, have come under increasing public scrutiny since most of these enterprises are producing products important to the country's development. And services related to oil, gas, power and telecommunications are important in everyday life. So every wrong step by these companies draws attention as well as affects the nation's development.
Dismissing the person responsible for EVN's failures was necessary. Many have said that the Prime Ministerial decision was needed and timely, but some said they were confused about the decision to transfer Hung to the Ministry of Industry and Trade. For better or worse, his dismissal is an alarm bell for every leader at other national economic groups and State-owned enterprises. No one knows who will be the next to receive the red card from the Government, but obviously, it is time for all leaders to seriously review their work.
Another case of dismissal involving officials in the northern city of Hai Phong's Tien Lang District earlier this week was also a much talked about news story. It followed a land scandal in early January when local authorities tried to seize land from several farmers, but found themselves shot at - and even bombed.
The chairman of the People's Committee and the deputy chairman of the People's Committee, who directly led the land seizure, were suspended from their work. Others, including a district policeman and communal officials, were strongly criticised. They were all condemned for failing to carry out their personal responsibilities as leaders.
The case is bound to have a great impact on identifying the responsibilities of each grassroots level official in dealing with farmers and farming issues. Questions were raised after the case on who should take responsibility when farmers, who usually find it hard to make a living outside the agriculture sector, are forced to violence to hold onto their land.
Former State President Le Duc Anh spoke out early on, asking for a serious probe into the responsibilities of officials.
Two days ago, just after the announcement of the dismissal of the officials, Anh told Lao Dong (Labour) newspaper that even officials at the Hai Phong City level needed to practise self-criticism.
Tomorrow, all reports on the case will be presented to the Prime Minister's cabinet for review before a final decision is issued.
Many people are counting down the minutes to see what will be the fallout. — VNS