State-owned farms, forest land in Vietnam misused over problematic management

Over 90,000 hectares of state-run farms and forest land in Vietnam have been misused for years, causing huge losses to the national budget

Trees are cut down into timbers in a forest in the Central Highlands province of Kon Tum.

Over 90,000 hectares of state-run farms and forest land in Vietnam have been misused for years, causing huge losses to the national budget, deputies said at a lawmaking National Assembly (NA) meeting in Hanoi on November 10.

A report of the NA Standing Committee revealed that Vietnam has allocated nearly eight million hectares of forests and farms under the management of state-run farms and plantations.

A large part of the area has been exploited, leased or had its purpose and rights of usage transferred in breach of current laws and regulations.

These kinds of violations have happened regularly and over a long period of time, especially at farms in the Central Highlands and the southeastern region.

Although the central government has reported to the NA that the total area of misused forests and farms reaches over 90,000 hectares, chairman of the ethnic minority council of the legislature Ksor Phuoc told the meeting that this number is far lower than the reality.

In the 2004-14 period, the southern province of Binh Phuoc had over 56,200 hectares of forests trespassed on by locals, while the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak had 19,300 hectares.

Many companies and agencies have transferred state-owned farms and forests under their management to individuals at a flat rate and the latter have further changed the purpose of use of the area without permission.

Numerous private villas and palaces have been built in forests across the nation, said deputy Truong Thi Hue of the northern province of Thai Nguyen.

It is the result of loose management, she stressed.

Besides being misused, state-owned farms and forests have produced little profit from 2004 to 2014.

Nearly eight million hectares of state-owned farms and forests yielded only VND1.7 trillion (US$75.6 million) to the state budget in those ten years. This means that on average, each hectare contributed less than VND90,000 ($4) a year.

As a result, the government should stop allocating farms and forests to state-owned agencies, said deputy Trieu La Pham of the northern province of Ha Giang.

While individual farmers actively seek out land for cultivation, most state-run farms keep vast areas barren and unused.

Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, admitted that the organization of production on state-run farms and in forests is problematic.

On the other hand, rubber tree, coffee, and tea plantations have developed well in recent years thanks to those farms.

Nguyen Minh Nhi, former chairman of the People’s Committee of An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta, said he had disbanded all state-run farms in the locality when he was in office from 1988 to 1991, because of their ineffective operations.

He recalled that former trade minister Truong Dinh Tuyen dissolved all state-run farms in the north-central province of Nghe An for the same reason before 2003.

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