Monday, September 26 2016

VietNamNews

Civil society organisations held back by biased regulations: activists

Update: August, 11/2016 - 10:07
Activists yesterday called the legal framework on association unfair and biased towards public society organisations (PSOs), while creating barriers to the operations of civil organisations. — Photo daidoanket.vn

HÀ NỘI – Activists yesterday called the legal framework on association unfair and biased towards public society organisations (PSOs), while creating barriers to the operations of civil organisations.

Chairman of the Vietnam Association of Corporate Directors Hàn Mạnh Tiến said at an annual conference on civil society organisations (CSOs) held by the Vietnam Union of Science and Technology Associations yesterday that the Government was spending a huge budget on society organisations, yet a disproportionate amount went to PSOs only.

Việt Nam had at least 52,565 associations as of December 2014, according to a Government report, of which the six biggest are PSOs that rest at the top of the country’s society organisation pyramid.

They include the Vietnam Fatherland Front, the Vietnam General Confederation of Labour, the Vietnam Women’s Union, the Vietnam Youth Federation together with the Vietnam Farmers’ Association and the Vietnam War Veterans Association.

Standing next in line are some 9,028 specialised organisations at central and local levels representing particular careers and also put under the Party’s control. Those specialised associations are allowed to set up and manage local non-governmental organisations.

“The expenses to run the whole PSO system ranged from VNĐ45.6-68.1 trillion (US$2.05-3.06 billion) annually, equal to about 1 to 1.7 per cent of GDP,” Tiến said.

Head of the Institute for Policy Studies, Law and Development Hoàng Ngọc Giao said that the PSOs managed to receive full support from the Government, from infrastructure, personnel to spending budgets, which the CSOs have never had.

A recent survey of the Information Centre on Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO-IC) on the difficulties its 86 members faced during operations showed that about 73 per cent of the CSOs struggled to find financial sponsors for their projects while nearly 55 per cent said they lacked adequate infrastructure.

CSOs also found it hard to look for funding from outside of Việt Nam.

“Financial aid from international non-governmental organisations (INGOs) was especially important to the development of civil society,” said Tiến.

“They provided US$102 million in 2003 and up to $300 million in 2013 with the number of projects increased to 28,000.”

Yet the hesitation of local authorities in approving aid from INGOs was believed to be one of the main obstacles blocking the money flow to CSOs.

NGO-IC Director Đỗ Thị Vân urged the Government for equal encouragement to both PSOs and CSOs, and a final call on the Law on Association that has been on and off the table since 1993.

So far Việt Nam has not had a specific law on association but relied on multiple legal documents to regulate the establishment of society organisations and their activities. – VNS

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