Red tape prevents Vietnam from spending own money: Deputy PM

Vietnam does not lack money in its state budget, but bureaucracy is preventing money from being disbursed for public investment

Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue speaks at the Q&A session in Hanoi on June 15, 2017.

Vietnam does not lack money in its state budget, but bureaucracy is preventing money from being disbursed in a timely manner for public investment, Deputy Prime Minister Vuong Dinh Hue told lawmakers on Thursday.

Addressing a Q&A session held as part of the ongoing third sitting of the 14th lawmaking National Assembly in Hanoi, the deputy premier admitted that disbursement of public investment in 2016 and the first five months of this year was sluggish.

“We have money but are unable to spend what we have,” Hue said.

The deputy premier took the floor after Minister of Transport Truong Quang Nghia and Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung were grilled over questions regarding Vietnam’s public investment and state capital allocation at Thursday’s hearing session.

The investment minister admitted that only 88 percent of all investment projects stipulated by the legislature for the 2016-20 period have been allocated.

As many as VND198,379 billion (US$8.74 billion) have been approved for spending, but currently remain unallocated, he added.

Deputy PM Hue admitted that sluggish public investment allocations are one of the reasons why Vietnam may fail to achieve its economic growth target this year.

Hue told lawmakers that the government is responsible for the problem, pledging that the state will “work harder on the issue.”

Vietnam targets a GDP growth of 6.7 percent in 2017 but first quarter growth slowed to a sluggish 5.1 percent.

The Deputy PM attributed the issue to hurdles made by the law on public investment and other relevant legal documents.

“Ministries, agencies and localities were slow in detecting and amending unreasonable content in these documents,” he said.

He also pointed to the loose coordination between ministries, agencies, and localities.

As for solutions to the problem, Hue tasked agencies with continuing to review any inappropriate regulations in the law on public investment and relevant documents.  He also suggested amending the law.

The deputy premier noted that the government has taken the issue seriously, evident by one resolution released in July 2016, and another in May 2017, which collectively provided solutions on accelerating public investment disbursement and improving the efficiency of public investment capital.

“The government will do more in the time to come,” Deputy PM Hue asserted.

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