|Doãn Hoàng Minh, acting Director of the Department of Consular under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Photo dangconsan.vn
Doãn Hoàng Minh, acting Director of the Department of Consular under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, talks to the media about the ministry’s guidance for domestic units and representative agencies abroad on improving consular work to meet people's needs.
Last year, trade and travel activities basically resumed as before the pandemic. What advantages and disadvantages does this bring to the implementation of consular work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and at Vietnamese representative missions abroad?
In 2022, most countries lifted travel restrictions and Việt Nam was one of the countries that opened its borders as early as mid-March. Since then, the number of people going abroad to work, study, travel and do business, along with the demand for entry into Việt Nam of overseas Vietnamese and foreigners, increased sharply again. To meet the new situation, the diplomatic sector has continued to improve the quality of consular public services at home and abroad.
First of all, it should be emphasised that so far, consular work has always received close attention and direction from leaders at all levels. Citizen protection cases are always resolved in a timely manner and public services are constantly improved in quality towards openness, transparency and increasing convenience for the people. Secondly, the overseas Vietnamese agencies always closely coordinate with domestic agencies, consult foreign experiences with arising issues related to citizen protection and management of foreigners residing in the area.
These agencies also regularly exchange with local authorities to find suitable solutions, creating favourable conditions for our citizens to live, study and do business legally and stably.
However, besides the above advantages, there are also many difficulties and challenges for consular work.
Domestically, people's demand to go abroad increased sharply after the pandemic, leading to overcrowding at the One-Stop-Shop unit. In foreign countries, representative offices also faced a sharp increase in demand from the people for the issuance of documents, especially passports, visas, visa exemption certificates.
Some difficulties also arose during this period, such as the transition period between the application of the old model and the new model of our passports, as well as the initial phase of reinstatement of the immigration policy for foreigners. Notably, complicated and unpredictable developments in the world situation, such as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, the situation of Vietnamese labour in Cambodia, and unexpected accidents related to our citizens in the UK, Jordan, South Korea, etc., also posed significant challenges to consular work and citizen protection.
In the context that demand for consular documents has increased sharply after COVID-19, what have the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Việt Nam's representative missions abroad done to meet this demand?
Thoroughly grasping the Government's direction on putting people and businesses at the centre of service, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has urged leaders of relevant units in the country (Consular Department and Department of Foreign Affairs of Hồ Chí Minh City) and other agencies to synchronously and comprehensively deploy solutions to drastically improve consular work to meet the needs of the people.
The first solution is to grasp the trend of controlling the COVID-19 pandemic in the world to advise the Government to fully open the economy. Representative agencies continuously update information and give warnings about travel, residence and entry and exit policies of other countries to promptly propose measures to create maximum facilitation for travel and trade activities between Việt Nam and other countries.
Relevant units have to continue to urge officers in charge of handling administrative procedures about the awareness and duties of serving the citizens.
Agencies should improve the quality of public services by arranging qualified personnel and technical equipment, promoting digital transformation and applying information technology in receiving and processing consular documents.
Agencies must continue to listen and take in people's opinions to make timely and appropriate adjustments in handling consular procedures.
Agencies of the MOF have to always closely cooperate with each other to tackle problems arising from citizens' residence and travel (such as adding information about the place of birth in the new passport form or travel problems).
The above measures have been vigorously implemented by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and have brought about positive results. We have thoroughly grasped and encouraged officials and employees to make efforts to quickly process the records, meeting the needs of the people to the fullest. At peak times, the Consular Department encouraged officials and employees to work through noon and overtime. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has also mobilised officials and employees from other units to be seconded to improve the capacity of receiving dossiers.
Thanks to the above efforts, the people's demand for consular processing has been well met. In 2022, for the consular certification and legalisation, the Consular Department and the Department of Foreign Affairs of Hồ Chí Minh City received about 100,000 visitors to carry out procedures and certify more than 580,000 documents. The number of applications for the issuance of diplomatic passports, official passports or foreign visas has also increased because many foreign activities have been resumed after a hiatus due to the pandemic. Specifically, in 2022, we have completed procedures for more than 4,800 delegations and issued nearly 10,500 diplomatic/official passports. Overseas, the local government agencies have issued about 280,000 ordinary passports to Vietnamese citizens who are residing, working and studying abroad; about 100,000 visas for foreigners entering Việt Nam and about 350,000 visa exemption papers for overseas Vietnamese and their spouses and children.
Could you please tell us more specifically about solutions to improve the quality and efficiency of public administrative services in the consular field at overseas Vietnamese agencies?
We are determined to build a comprehensive, modern, professional, clean and strong diplomatic service on the basis of accelerating the thorough understanding and strict implementation of resolutions, the Government's direction on foreign affairs as well as strengthening the building and rectification of the Party, stepping up supervision and inspection to prevent corruption and negativity.
In the current context, when the Government is stepping up the reform of administrative procedures and requesting ministries and branches to promote the implementation of solutions for economic recovery after COVID pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is deeply aware of its responsibility. It is necessary to continue to improve the quality of consular public services at home and abroad.
Diplomats at home and abroad will work with the highest spirit of "serving", taking people's satisfaction as a measure of work efficiency, ensuring publicity and transparency in accordance with the provisions of the law.
In the context of increasingly diverse and complex consular tasks, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs determined that it is necessary to further strongly improve this task, thereby considering research and institution building as the foundation; the task of perfecting regulations, processes and administrative reform is a breakthrough.
In addition, we continue to attach importance to the training and retraining of cadres; combine and promote the application of information technology with the use of mass communication methods in the implementation of consular work at home and abroad. VNS