The Director of the Planning Management Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment, Vũ Quang Các, speaks to Tuổi trẻ (Youth) newspaper about the shortcomings of planning activities in Việt Nam
What do you think about planning activities in Việt Nam?
Unreasonable development plans are seen in sectors including steel, beverage and rice export. The Ministry of Industry and Trade developed planning for rice traders who are eligible to export. In my opinion, I don’t think this needs to be planned as it does not relate to any arrangement of space. Controversial opinions are also raised about planning on rice farming land. It’s reasonable to keep land for farming but it is not necessary to grow only rice in the planned areas. Farmers should be allowed to grow other crops if they are more profitable than rice.
I witnessed a situation in which the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Industry and Trade developed two separate plans for the medical materials industry. The two plans were quite the same. I think it would be better if they worked together on only one plan, which could formulate policies to better attract investment to the industry.
Some are afraid that without Government planning in some key sectors or products, people would rush to such sectors/products, possibly resulting in lower prices. Do you think so?
Despite Government development plans, for example for farming products, abundant farming products were left spoiled and thrown away.
Actually, planning doesn’t always curb losses for farmers. Planners themselves are not sure in predicting market demand and supply, especially world supply-demand. Moreover, to some extent, plan makers cannot understand the market as well as the business itself. Once investing in certain sector, business always finds out about market conditions as much as possible.
How would we manage the development of key sectors/ products if planning is removed?
Việt Nam has had development planning for pepper, coffee and rubber - but these were usually changed. Authorities failed to control over- or under-production of these crops.
Experience from other countries shows that Government should set conditions instead of planning. For examples, Government imposes conditions relating to financial capacity, environment or work safety.
The Government then publicises these conditions to deter ineligible business from entering these sectors.
Currently, businesses can be hurt if they are not included in the Government’s development planning. They have to wait from six months to two years to be added to adjusted plans.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment has re-proposed a draft law on which faced objections last year. Is there any change in the new version?
The draft law on Planning proposes planning for only 33 sectors. Ministries and agencies would not carry out planning by themselves, as previously. A national planning council would be responsible in order to prevent overlapping and serve the benefits of a particular sector/ locality only.
The draft also removes planning for particular products. The production and trade of products will be managed with conditions, criteria and according to principles of transparency and international practice. — VNS