National Assembly (NA) deputy Do Van Sinh, Permanent Member of NA Economic Committee, talks about the disbursement process for public investment projects this year.

Do Van Sinh. — Photo

Why did the disbursement of public investment remain low in the first five months of this year despite many efforts?

Slow disbursement of public investment has always been a “dark spot” in economic activities in recent years. Although the Government and the Prime Minister have frequently urged and promoted ministries and localities to accelerate public investment, this situation has not improved much.

However, the disbursement is uneven in ministries, sectors and localities. Some have been working well but some have not. This shows that the main reason is in the organisation of the implementation.  There are also some problems coming from the legal regulations but this is not the main cause. The revised Law on Public Investment (amended) came into effect on January 1 this year, removing some legal difficulties.

Therefore, I think that the main reason of the slow disbursement of public investment is due to subjective factors, especially the limitations in management, administration and implementation such as investment procedures and capital plan details have been slowly worked on, site clearance has not been completely resolved while the contractor selection and construction have been carried out slowly. A number of ministries, sectors, localities and project management boards have not been proactive or drastic in co-ordinating and directing the administration. The role and responsibility of the head have not been upheld.

How do you evaluate the ability to complete the disbursement plan this year?

Last year, we had many drastic measures to speed up disbursement. We disbursed about VND325 trillion (US$14.4 billion), about 75 per cent of the plan. Meanwhile, the plan to disburse public investment this year is VND700 trillion, twice as much as last year. Over the first five months, the disbursement to date is estimated at about 26 per cent of the plan, although slightly better than last year, the rate is still low. Therefore, disbursing all the planned VND700 trillion this year will be very difficult, even impossible.

However, with the revised Law on Public Investment taking effect this year and the Government decree detailing the implementation of a number of articles of the law in April, the disbursements may be somewhat faster.

All projects are ready for procedures and have completed requirements and are just waiting for implementation or completion of unfinished components. Therefore, we can accelerate to disburse all the planned capital of VND700 trillion. This is a very important driving force for the economy, especially in the context of weak supply and demand of the private sector due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What should we do to further speed up the disbursement process?

Since the beginning of the year, the Government and the Prime Minister have frequently urged and emphasised the importance of public investment disbursement. In late May, the Prime Minister made a written request to the provincial and municipal Party secretaries, ministers, heads of ministerial-level agencies, government-attached agencies, and chairmen of people’s committees of provinces and cities, asking them to focus on directing and speeding up the disbursement of public investment capital this year and consider this the main political task of the year. In this document, the Prime Minister also requested for sanctions to strictly punish those who intentionally cause difficulties, hinder and slow the progress of implementation and disbursement. The role and responsibility of the leader will be upheld.

These are the right and necessary solutions but they are still not drastic enough. It is important to clarify each step, each task to be completed within a specific time, with the specific person taking responsibility. Frankly speaking, in many places, the organisational structure of implementing public investment projects is problematic. Through supervision, we know there are project management directors who are not doing the right jobs, have poor organisational capacity, while managing a lot of money. The regulations on the head’s responsibility have not been clear so no one has been disciplined for causing slow disbursement. We must have a clear process of review and punish.

There is not much time left from now until the end of the year and I think that some processes related to public investment under the authority of the National Assembly can be handed to the Government. For example, the transfer of capital sources between ministries, sectors, localities should be carried out by the Government, creating maximum conditions for the Government to accelerate disbursement this time.  VNS/TBTC

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