Viet Nam News
HÀ NỘI — Deputy Prime Minister Vương Đình Huệ has acknowledged the Government’s responsibility in the slow budget disbursement for public investment, saying “we have the money, but we are unable to spend it.”
The National Assembly hearing of the Minister of Planning and Investment, Nguyễn Chí Dũng, resumed today morning, as the deputies grilled him with questions concerning the ineffective public investment since last year. Deputy Prime Minister Huệ later decided to intervene to assist the minister in answering the deputies’ queries.
The budget disbursed for investment by the end of December last year reached VNĐ201.9 trillion (US$8.97 billion), accounting for only about 81 per cent of the annual plan, according to the General Statistics Office of Việt Nam. In the first five months of 2017, some VNĐ76.2 trillion were already spent, a report by the GSO said. However, up to 13 out of the 44 Governmental units failed to do any disbursement, while 22, together with four local authorities, had a disbursement rate under 10 per cent.
The slow disbursement was one of the reasons leading to an economic growth rate lower than expectation, Huệ said. The national gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter this year only reached 5.1 per cent, continuing the downward trend from 6.1 per cent and 5.4 per cent in the same period in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
The deputy PM said that the introduction of the Law on Public Investment which came into effect since early last year also caused confusion in the implementation. Though the purpose of the law was to avoid potential losses in the investment spending of the taxpayers’ money, Huệ said, some administrative regulations unintentionally blocked the disbursement flow.
Another reason for the ineffective disbursement came from an adjustment in the national mid-term public investment plan.
The plan approved by the NA indicated that some VNĐ2 quadrillion ($88.8 billion) would be spent up to 2020. It was, however, cut by VNĐ200 trillion from the amount mentioned in the original plan, prepared and submitted by the Government to the previous 13th NA.
“The ministries and the local authorities had to spend time adjusting their projects, thus prolonging the disbursement process,” Huệ said.
The Government has upped its efforts to accelerate the disbursement speed, which resulted in a faster rate, he told the NA deputies.
“The disbursement amount in the last five months of 2016 was nearly as much as the first seven months. The first five months of the year have disbursed 24.7 per cent (of the plan), while it was 24 per cent last year,” the deputy PM said. “It is, however, still slow.” — VNS