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Closer watch needed to avoid wrongdoings by associations

Update: December, 15/2016 - 15:00
Fish sauce bottles. The misleading survey by the Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association has caused heavy losses to several fish sauce manufacturers. — VNA/VNS Illustrative Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI – The inspection of associations needs to be increased to ensure their operations are in conformity with charter principles and the law, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs Trần Anh Tuấn said.

He was speaking at a conference yesterday to review the activities of associations, social and charity funds in 2016 and to contribute opinions to a new draft law on associations.

Tuấn referred to the recent “fish sauce scandal” involving the Việt Nam Standards and Consumers Association (Vinatas), which sparked public outcry in October.

Without permission from the concerned ministries, Vinatas published results of its survey according to which arsenic content in fish sauce was far beyond the permitted level. However, the result was later proven to be misleading as it failed to distinguish between non-toxic organic arsenic compounds and toxic inorganic ones.

According to Tuấn, the Vinatas case proved that many associations were not being monitored once they were granted establishment permission by the authorities.

"There remains a reality that after granting permission, we don’t know how to move forward. This is a shortcoming,” the deputy minister told the conference. 

He attributed this to the poor connection between State management bodies, particularly the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) as the direct management agency, with associations and funds, which had to be strengthened to increase the efficiency of State management.

To tackle wrongdoings, the draft bill on associations, which will be submitted to the National Assembly in the future, will include regulations on temporary suspension, dissolution and revoking stamps of those violating the law or their charter. 

According to MoHA statistics, up till June 2016, there were 68,125 associations across the country, of which, 498 associations operated nationwide and the rest operated locally, with more than 11,800 employees currently on state payroll.

The financing mechanism of associations was also a matter of concern at the conference.

Hà Thị Dung, head of the Department for Non-governmental Organisations, said under the new draft bill, the number of associations getting funds from the State Budget to pay salaries to their staff would be reduced.

Pointing out that the State does not subsidise for associations as a whole, Deputy Minister Tuấn said the State would only finance those being established by the State following the demands of the Party and State. 

For locally operated associations which were receiving state funding to pay operational expenses and staff salaries, the current financing mechanism will be maintained until 2020, following which a new road map will be put into force. Other associations must cover their own expenses and only be paid from the State Budget for tasks assigned by the State. 

Nguyễn Ngọc Hiến, former deputy minister of home affairs and chairman of the Administrative Science Association, suggested the State increase orders for associations to voice critical opinions regarding social affairs, laws and administrative reform projects to avoid "wasting scientists’ intellect".

According to him, the current relation between the State and associations hinders the development of associations, while authorities at various levels and the society as a whole still do not understand correctly the role, function and effect of associations.

Meanwhile, Dr Lê Minh Tâm, former rector of Hà Nội University of Law and vice chairman of Việt Nam Lawyer Association, said it was important to raise awareness about associations to encourage them to develop into a strong and energetic system. – VNS


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