Better management of State assets needed

June 22, 2017 - 09:00

Lawyer Nguyễn Tiến Lập talks to Thời báo Kinh tế Sài gòn (Sài Gòn Economic Times) about best way to utilise and manage limited State assets.

Lawyer Nguyễn Tiến Lập talks to Thời báo Kinh tế Sài gòn (Sài Gòn Economic Times) about best way to utilise and manage limited State assets.

In your opinion what are the main causes behind losses and waste in the management and use of State property?

Many problems should be addressed right now, particularly the problems of “losses and waste” regarding public assets.

In my opinion, there are two main reasons: ethical erosion and problems in social structure. In many countries, the general public has come out strongly against wastage of any kind of asset - excluding public assets. Such wastage has been considered harmful. However, for Việt Nam, wastage of public assets starts from poor management mechanisms and administrative performance.

In the domain of learning, people call it “collective leadership and consensus”. The positive side of this mechanism is that it would lead to a general consensus for all decision making. But its bad side is that once the decisions are made, they become “orphans”.

For our country, if “losses and waste” become chronic, I think we’ll forever be a middle income country; it is high time for us to tackle the two following important issues; i.e. to continue our education on ethics and to change the current operating mechanism.

Do you have any comments on the suggested changes to the draft of the revised Law on Management and use of State Property?

Efforts made by National Assembly deputies on making changes to the 2008 Law are reflections of their anxiety to revise the law to make it a legal foundation for tight management and efficient use of public assets and help to prevent loss, waste and corruption.

In my opinion, the adjustment frame work for the revised law is too ambitious. It covers office management and equipment, including government offices and State organisations’ vehicles as well as assets which belong to the people as stipulated in the Constitution, like infrastructure projects, natural resources and land. I’m a bit suspicious about this approach, as the management is a bit murky.

In my opinion, the 2008 Law’s definition of assets is narrow and clearer. So with a much broader context as written in the draft law, I’m afraid to say that it will lead to big problem in the implementation and its implementation feasibility will be very unclear.

Reading the draft law, I have a feeling that many issues have already been touched upon in other laws, including the Land Law, the Construction Law, the Enterprises Law, the Law on the Management and Use of State Capital and others. If this is the case, the Law will then become a “Pipe Law” or “a Frame Law” as has been warned by Nguyễn Văn An, a former Chairman of the National Assembly.

How do you compare the draft amendments with the 2008 Law?

Compared to the 2008 Law, the draft amends several specific contents on state management of public assets as well as the tasks and powers of state agencies in charge of public assets. Particularly noteworthy are the provisions on criteria and norms for use of public assets, and the regime on management and use of public assets in different agencies, organisations and units.

The draft defines responsibilities to observe criteria and norms for use of public assets throughout the process of construction investment, procurement, use, exploitation and handling of public assets, and to supervise and inspect the observance in order to remedy existing shortcomings.

In your opinion, what should we do to improve current management and the use of public assets to avoid losses and waste?

My approach is different from what has been written in the draft law. First of all we need to differentiate clearly the terms of national assets which are managed by public administrative offices, and the assets owned by public offices, the State apparatus, or the political system which all used the State budget during procurement.

That’s why, in my opinion, we should adopt a special approach for the management of these assets.

From the perspective of a citizen, I say what the people want is not how the public assets are managed, but slashing the State budget used in running the huge public apparatus. Instead the money should be used for national development and for the people._VNS