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Ministers tune in to public

Update: March, 17/2012 - 09:07

 

Soft drinks are produced at the Viet Nam Kirin Beverage Limited Company plant with 100 per cent foreign investment in My Phuoc 2 Industrial Zone. Public investment restructuring, boosting the partnership between public and private sectors and the better management of economic zones were top issues mentioned during an online dialogue between the Planning and Investment Minister and his audience. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Vu
HA NOI — Two Cabinet members hosted separate on-line dialogues on the Government's website yesterday to answer public queries on how to efficiently revamp public investment and how to guarantee good healthcare with medical expenses set to rise.

Public investment restructuring, boosting the partnership between public and private sectors and the better management of economic zones were top issues mentioned during an online dialogue between the planning minister and his audience.

Answering questions about how to restructure public investment more effectively, Minister of Planning and Investment Bui Quang Vinh said that his ministry had proposed and got the nod from the Government on a decree to change investment management, in which the decentralisation of public investment was highlighted.

"We have been working to decentralise management and this has proven to be a sound decision which has created the initiative among ministries, sectors and localities," Vinh said. "However, we have to admit there are still mass investments that are proving costly and wasteful."

To solve this, in the coming time, the individual responsibility of the one who signed the investment approval would be defined clearly, said the minister.

"They must ensure there is enough capital for the project to progress as planned," Vinh said.

Investments would also be tightened and carefully checked by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) instead of being automatically distributed to ministries, sectors and localities as before. The MPI minister described the move as "real progress".

In the second quarter of the year, the Government will build a decree on middle-term investment, in which ministries and localities will be allocated a five year budget with which they will have to select and focus on the most necessary projects.

"This is an important time for the planning and investment sector since we will change from yearly plans to three-to-five-year plans," Vinh said.

According to the MPI minister, investment from the State budget would be reduced so there was a need to build policies to attract investment from the private sector.

"In reality, the ratio of State investment has gradually decreased, from 53.4 per cent from 2001-05 to 37-38 per cent in recent years," Vinh said, "In 2012, the ratio for development investment in the total State budget will account for just 9.8 per cent."

Vinh added that the Government had piloted the Public Private Partnership (PPP) scheme in some transport infrastructure projects.

"We are working with foreign agencies and organisations that have experience in PPP to complete the legal framework to match international regulations as well as meet the demands of private enterprises at home and abroad.

Investment on EZs

Agreeing that economic zones (EZs) and industrial zones (IZs) played an important role in the economic structure of Viet Nam, Vinh stressed on the contributions of EZs and IZs to the localities they are situated in and the country's GDP, as well as the country's economic shift from agriculture to industry-service.

"However, there are still some difficulties that need to be solved," he said. "The MPI is submitting to the Government solutions to solve those problems, especially to fill all EZs and IZs so that each plot of land can benefit the Vietnamese economy."

Vinh added that the MPI had suggested that the Government select five or six coastal EZs which have the most importance to the economy to invest in. They included Lach Huyen-Dinh Vu, Nghi Son, Vung Ang, Phu Quoc and Chu Lai-Dung Quat EZs, he said.

"In the investment distribution plan for 2012, the MPI has suggested the Government spend 65 per cent of the investment on those selected EZs," Vinh said. "The same for the 28 border EZs, we will also spend more than 80 per cent of State budget on the top six performers."

Statistics from the MPI show that there are 283 IZs, 15 coastal EZs and 28 border EZs nationwide.

Health concerns

Health Minister Nguyen Thi Kim Tien and a number of hospital directors focused on health insurance, benefits and the impacts of an impending price hike that is set to see the cost of nearly 450 medical services increase between 2-6 times from April 15.

In response to numerous queries relating to service fee adjustments, Tien stressed the sustained pressure that the health sector was under to update more than 3,000 services which have remained unchanged since 1995.

"Basic wages have increased 6.9 times and the cost of medical materials has also gone up," said Tien.

The minister said that low medical service fees greatly impacted on the quality of health examinations and treatments, as current patient payments could not sustain a hospital's development. In addition, low quality medical services did not encourage people to purchase health insurance.

Trinh Minh Thanh from Tan Phuoc District, Tien Giang Province asked why the Government had decided to raise medical service fees at this difficult time.

Minister Tien responded that people of the biggest concerns were those living in poverty, close to poverty, ethnic minority people, and those living in remote areas.

She also added that the poor would be provided with free health insurance cards by the Government and pay only 5 per cent of medical examination and treatment fees. The near-poor group would receive a 75 per cent discount if they purchased health insurance cards.

The recently issued Decision 14 will also support ethnic and minority people, people living in remote areas as well as those suffering from chronic illnesses such as cancer, kidney failure or those in need of heart surgery.

Attending the event, director of Phu Tho Province's Health Department Ho Duc Hai said the adjustment would help hospitals to improve their care and treatment quality, while noting that "it's not a decisive factor".

Director of the northern Hoa Binh General Hospital Truong Quy Duong affirmed that healthcare standards would be improved because the hospital would have more money to maintain and upgrade rooms, beds and facilities.

"But the level of improvement would vary among different establishments," he added.

Deputy director of the Ha Noi-based Bach Mai General Hospital Mai Trong Khoa said that many hospitals would face financial difficulties if medical service prices were not hiked.

He explained to pay its nearly 3,000 staff and cover other expenses, the hospital received only a meagre amount from the ministry, and had to cover the rest.

"We desperately need society to start sharing," said Khoa.

Bui Minh Nhat from Vinh City, Nghe An Province said that health insurance for everyone would be an important and effective measure to ensure healthcare and protection, but about 40 per cent of the population were still without health insurance.

"What measures are being taken to ensure health insurance for everyone by 2014?" he asked.

Tien said it would need take time and effort to tackle the issue.

Most people without insurance are near – poor, students, farmers, salt workers and small traders.

The health ministry would ask the National Assembly for revise the health insurance law to encourage more people to purchase insurance cards and increase support for those who needed it. — VNS

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