SOE leaders should not be political appointees

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Economic and political power is a great resource that needs to be used efficiently and effectively, because failure to do so will land the country in deep trouble.

Leadership of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and agencies is not a special right, but a challenging mission for people who have a strong desire and commitment to making the country strong and prosperous.

However, the recent exposures of huge losses at state-owned corporations like the shipbuilder Vinashin and the shipping company Vinalines have disappointed people, highlighting big problems with the way Vietnam is handling management positions in major businesses.

Here, we can see that it is not only a question of the leaders' capacity, but also about their sense of responsibility.

In fact, Vinashin and Vinalines are just rare cases in which leaders have been held responsible for their mismanagement. In many other cases, their accountability has not been exposed and they have gotten away with it.

A report by the government's inspectorate revealed last month that over the past five years, 678 top honchos and their subordinates have been punished for corruption or allowing corruption to take place in their organizations.

The number, according to chief inspector Huynh Phong Tranh, was too low compared to the number of corruption and mismanagement cases detected.

As Vietnam struggles to find an effective way to restructure its economy, it should be remembered that the process should start with the people in power at government agencies as well as companies, because no one can understand an organization better than its leaders.

If the leaders are motivated, visionary and have the guts to take on challenges, it is not that difficult to find the right strategies and policies.

The restructuring process, therefore, should start from the way leaders are chosen.

In Vietnam, the leaders of state companies are usually selected and assigned to the position without proper training or qualifications, and this is an issue that needs to be reviewed and reconsidered totally.

In the context of a global economy, leadership of any business should be treated as a professional job rather than a political appointment. Hence they should have the needed skills and qualifications.

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