Public investment projects ineffective due to shortage of residents’ supervision

By Bao Van, Thanh Nien News

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A recent report by Oxfam Vietnam finds that Vietnam's citizens have access to little information about their provinces’ socio-economic development and public investment plans. photo credit: VNA
With a state investment of some VND40 billion ($1.9 million), the Ho Tram dam in Hoa Binh province was constructed to serve the irrigation needs of local farmers. But the dam hasn't come into operation since construction finished in 2012 because the dam's drain valves quickly collapsed.

The Ho Tram dam is just one example of ineffective and wasteful public investment projects. Citizens are not consulted in the process of designing and developing budgets for the projects, to say nothing of supervising their construction, according to a report issued by Oxfam Vietnam last month.

“Without participation from local residents, programs and projects are often ineffective and wasteful and fail to meet the real needs of the communities they purport to serve; they've even caused losses to residents,” according to a report based on surveys of 40 public investment projects in the provinces of Hoa Binh, Nam Dinh, Quang Tri and Ba Ria Vung Tau from February to May this year.

The report said citizens have no information about the detailed plans, designs and costs of projects which are 100-percent funded by the state budget, especially projects whose investors are district or provincial governments.

Nguyen Dinh Trung, vice director of the Planning and Investment Department in Ba Ria-Vung Tau, said: “Investors are required to publicize information about their projects. They often issue pamphlets on the projects in the localities where they are implemented.”

“However, there is a little information in the pamphlets. They mainly contain the name of the project, its scheduled time of completion, the name of the investors, and nothing about their design,” he said.

The report found that Vietnam's citizens have access to little information about their provinces’ socio-economic development and public investment plans.

A person named Hoa in Ba Ria Vung Tau told Oxfam that local residents weren't aware of a planned road project in their locality. Only families whose houses were cleared away for the road were invited to a meeting to discuss compensation with related agencies.

Most citizens don’t know the agencies or individuals responsible for providing information about public investment projects in their communities, the report found. 

Oxfam further concluded that citizens of Vietnam do not effectively participate in public investment projects because officials and investors aren't aware of the importance of their participation. 

Le Kim Dung, representative of Oxfam Vietnam, said the issuance of the Public Investment Law is right and timely, but it should consider the participation and supervision of local people in public projects.  

They should be provided with opportunities to participate to ensure the efficiency of the projects, she said.

The draft Law on Public Investment is scheduled to be approved at the ongoing session of the 13th National Assembly.

Oxfam said Vietnam should ensure the transparency of information, and encourage local people to give opinions about project designs, and investment.

The country should also mandate the provision information and explanations of public investment activities and residents should be asked for their opinions, it said.

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