Incomplete gov't reports undermine NA oversight functions: deputies

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Vietnamese lawmakers said they are being prevented from doing a proper job of overseeing state budget allocation and spending because the government's reports leave out too many details.


"The report on State Budget Balance for 2008 has left out part of the money, so it is out of control," Le Quoc Dung, vice chairman of the National Assembly's Economic Standing Committee said at a meeting on Monday.


Dung said details like official development assistance loans and  government bonds weren't mentioned in the report.


So, the reported overspending of over four percent in 2008 isn't exact, Dung said, asking that the government submits clearer reports.


Tran Dinh Long, deputy head of the NA's Law Standing Committee, said in 2008 state agencies spent a lot of funds, but so far only 131 have been audited.


It's not right to approve the budget balance report without having all agencies audited, Long said.


Head of the Ho Chi Minh City Institute of Economics, representative Tran Du Lich, said the government's report on state budget balance didn't make sense to him.


While parliaments in other countries decide the government's spending and allocation, here the national legislative body is supposed to make decisions only on overspending, making it hard for the parliament to do its job, Lich said.


Dang Nhu Loi of the southern province of Ca Mau said that in 2008 the government had earned VND31 trillion (US$1.6 billion) more than expected but "how will the money be spent? Who will decide it?"


He wondered if the money had already been spent before being reported to the National Assembly.


The Budget Law regulates that income estimated for one year must be based on the previous year's income, but the predicted income for 2008 was lower than the earnings in 2007, Loi noted.


Phan Trung Ly, deputy head of the Laws Standing Committee, also asked for clarifications about the allocation and spending of the surplus income in 2008 as well as where it came from.


However, most of the representatives said that with the budget funds already spent, they could do little but approve the budget balance report.


Loi said the expenditure had been agreed to by the Finance and Budget Standing Committee, so they had no grounds to object to the balance.


In response to the lawmakers' questions, Finance Minister Vu Van Ninh said ODA loans were already included in the budget balance, while the government bonds' total value had been approved by the National Assembly.


He also denied allegations that the government was spending budgetary funds without approval, saying that they always reported to the National Assembly's Standing Committee before allocating money to projects.


Ninh said the government will make plans for the surplus income and submit them to the NA Standing Committee for approval.

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