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Regulatory reforms could aid development

Update: October, 15/2011 - 09:23

HA NOI — Reform of the regulatory process were needed to encourage growth and competitiveness in a riskier global environment, experts said yesterday at a conference held here by USAID and the Central Insitute for Economic Management.

Regulations were often issued in response to problems that arose and that improvements were needed in gathering public input during the regulatory process, said Nguyen Manh Cuong, a permanent member of the National Assembly Judicial Committee.

Tran Huu Huynh, deputy general secretary of the Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry, agreed that more effort needed to be made to consult public opinion on regulations affecting them.

Statistics from the National Assembly Office have shown that the number of regulations issued by central authorities increased from 1,043 in the year 2000 to 5,810 in 2010. The number of legal normative documents, such as decrees, circulars and decisions averaged almost 860 per year between 2005 and 2008.

"The rapid increase in the number of new regulations makes it quite difficult for citizens and businesses to understand them all," Cuong said. The nation also lacked a focal-point agency to control the quality and consistency of regulations, leading to the issuance of unclear regulations that require additional documents to clarify them, he added.

Policy instability and bureaucratic inefficiency are among the most problematic factors affecting businesses and citizens, said Faisal Naru, chief regulatory advisor of USAID's Viet Nam Competitive Initiative Project.

According to the World Competitiveness Index 2011-12, Naru noted, Viet Nam ranks 65 out of 142 countries, dropping 6 places compared to 2010-11.

He said there was a critical need for establishing an effective central policy coordinator similar to Japan's National Policy Unit or the British Prime Minister's Delivery and Strategy Unit. The central policy coordinator does not make policy but facilities the policymaking process for complex and cross-cutting issues, Naru said.

Phan Ngo Hai, general director of the Administrative Procedures Control Agency, which has been overseeing the Prime Minister's master plan to reform administrative procedures, also known as Project 30, said the quality of regulations remained poor.

Since 2010, Project 30 has simplified 77 per cent of 5,700 regulations, saving businesses about US$1.45 billion, according to the Government Office.

"If we could increase the quality of the regulatory environment, other problems such as infrastructure and the quality of the labour force could be managed much more easily," Hai said. — VNS

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