NA discusses use of resources for COVID-19, corruption scandals

April 12, 2023 - 07:43
The meeting was the second day of the 22nd session of the 15th NA Standing Committee under the chair of NA Chairman Vương Đình Huệ.
National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ chairs the second day of the 22nd session of the 15th NA Standing Committee, focusing on the use of resources for COVID-19 prevention and control. VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI – The use of resources for COVID-19 prevention and control, especially reports on corruption-plagued repatriation flights and Việt Á Company’s COVID-19 test kits scandals, dominated discussions of the National Assembly (NA) Standing Committee on Tuesday.

The meeting was the second day of the 22nd session of the 15th NA Standing Committee under the chair of NA Chairman Vương Đình Huệ.

Chairman of the NA Social Committee and deputy head of the supervision team Nguyễn Thuý Anh reported that, under Resolution No. 30/2021/QH15 issued by the National Assembly, approximately VNĐ613 trillion (US$26.1 trillion) had been allocated for COVID-19 pandemic prevention and control in the 2020-2022 period.

Of that, about VNĐ435.5 trillion had been used for tax exemptions, tax reductions, and support for affected businesses and individuals.

The resolution also includes over VNĐ47.2 billion to support affected employees.

As of December 31, 2022, the total resources mobilised for COVID-19 prevention and control amounted to over VNĐ36 trillion, of which VNĐ189 trillion came from the State budget and VNĐ47 trillion was raised from various sources of aid (primarily vaccines).

The COVID-19 vaccine fundraised over VNĐ15.1 trillion, and nearly 160 million vaccine doses were received from aid and sponsorship sources. Of that, the governments of other countries provided nearly 150 million doses worth about VNĐ24 trillion.

The report highlighted that by 2022, the grassroots health network had developed nationwide, with health centres established in 100 per cent of districts, medical centres in 99.6 per cent of communes, wards, and towns, and doctors working in 92.4 per cent of health centres.

Medical staff also worked in 71 per cent of villages and hamlets. Private clinics, family doctor's clinics, and private hospitals equivalent to the district level were also established.

However, the supervision team pointed out several limitations, including difficulties in allocating, managing, paying, and settling resources from the State budget and slow adjustment on the procurement of medical supplies and equipment, causing anxiety and fear of wrongdoings.

Mistakes in purchasing medical equipment and materials to serve the fight against COVID-19 still occurred, with some cases leading to criminal charges.

The organisation of the grassroots health system was not stable, she said. The district health centre management has not been uniformly implemented across the country, affecting the arrangement and management of human and financial resources.

Based on that, the supervision team proposed the NA issue a supervisory resolution to allow payment and settlement of certain expenses and the establishment of property owned by the whole people related to COVID-19 prevention and control.

This must be completed by December 31, 2023.

At the meeting, NA Chairman Vương Đình Huệ said it was necessary to evaluate the current situation, identify shortcomings and weaknesses, and determine the reasons.

Huệ requested a more specific report on the amount that has not been paid or settled, as well as problems during the supervising process and the political, legal, and practical basis for the supervision team to make the recommendations on the report.

The NA Chairman identified two significant violation cases, including rescue flights and Việt Á test kits, and noted that the report did not address them adequately.

He also raised concerns about any surplus or expired vaccines and how to manage and use donations from local sponsors who had contributed billions of dollars to buy vaccines.

Chairman of the NA’s Economic Committee Vũ Hồng Thanh inquired about the results of the VNĐ4.6 billion budget allocated for vaccine research.

NA Vice Chairmen Trần Thanh Mẫn and Nguyễn Đức Hải agreed that the report needed to assess the two violation cases thoroughly, especially the loopholes that led to the violations.

Mẫn suggested reviewing the funding for the COVID Vaccine Fund and ensuring that the Government and the Ministry of Finance had guided expenditure. He also stressed the need for public and comprehensive reporting on the management and use of the funds.

In conclusion, NA Vice Chairman Nguyễn Khắc Định said that the supervision team needed to coordinate with relevant agencies to complete the report, analyse and clarify the data and situation of the two cases, and propose practical and long-term solutions.

The report should be submitted to the National Assembly after seeking the opinion of the Standing Committee to ensure its quality, he said. – VNS