HÀ NỘI — Experiences of social economic development programme (SEDP) reforms from various donor funded programmes and projects in over 30 provinces across Việt Nam highlight that successful community-based planning using the SEDP process will not only create opportunities to improve the effectiveness of public investment, but also strengthen the capacity of local communities and government agencies at the local level, a policy dialogue heard yesterday in Hà Nội.
The policy dialogue, organised by Oxfam, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Bank, aimed to promote discussions on opportunities, feasibilities, challenges and ways to integrate National Target Programmes (NTPs) into SEDP at a commune level.
There are currently two NTPs focusing on sustainable poverty reduction and new rural development.
Local planning reforms at commune level increase opportunities for citizens and stakeholders to participate in planning meetings, Hoàng Xuân Thành, leader of the Oxfam advisory team said.
A programme named “Commune Planning Reform” under the framework of “Pro-poor policy monitoring and analysis” of 2014-16 funded by Irish Aid and the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation shows that commune-level planning reforms gradually improve the quality of annual planning and implementation.
The reforms have been conducted in seven provinces, namely Lào Cai, Hòa Bình, Nghệ An, Quảng Trị, Đắk Nông, Ninh Thuận and Trà Vinh.
“Integrating NTPs into SEDP helps mobilising, distributing and using better sources, contributing to sustainable poverty reduction in Việt Nam,” he said.
Thanks to the SEDP planning reform at all province, district, and commune levels in some provinces, proposals by lower levels are consolidated into plans by higher levels, he said.
However, the integration faces several challenges, for example, the risks of deterioration of planning quality after funded projects end.
Nguyễn Minh Tiến, chief of secretariat of Central Co-ordinating Office for New-style Rural Areas said that Việt Nam had enough legal foundations to expand local planning reforms to commune level.
"What the communes are waiting for is an official instruction circular from the Ministry of Planning and Investment," Tiến said.
"Without the instruction, each locality has three plans - one on social economic development, one on national target programmes on sustainable poverty reduction, and another on national target programmes on new-style rural area development, and will not be able to implement the integration.
“The National Assembly has approved mid-term public investment resolutions, which facilitate localities in the implementation and integration of NTPs into SEDP,” he said.
However, he said, at the commune level, making plans rarely meets requirements on quality. The biggest challenge is localities’ capacity, in particular, their consultation and training capacity. Expenses on improving capacity and consultation are very limited.
The meeting agreed that it is necessary to have a legal framework from the central level on planning and integrating NTPs, SEDP, and other projects. — VNS