Strong rules needed to save festivals from corruption: NA members

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Elephants parade at the ongoing Hue Festival. Officials are calling for better management of festivals which could become grounds for corruption.

 

Some festivals in Vietnam are probably being organized to embezzle funds and for people to spend the state's money, National Assembly officials told Thanh Nien Sunday. 

 

Dao Trong Thi, chairman of the NA Culture, Education, Youth and Children Committee, said it might be the case that festivals are seen as an opportunity to spend money.

 

Once the decision is made to carry out a particular activity, then the state has to allocate funds to see it through, Thi continued.

 

He said large festivals organized with the state's budget must get approval from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. "Though it has tried, the ministry still lacks a lot documents regarding management, especially effective regulations."

 

Vu Quang Hai, a deputy from the northern province of Hung Yen, said "I know that construction projects often come accompanied by waste and embezzlement, and cultural events using the state budget are no exception."

 

Hai said the country can organize festivals without the biggest banh chung, or the largest bottle of wine.

 

"The National Assembly needs to know how to control spending on such events, especially while residents are still living a very difficult life. In principle, the budget for these events must be cut to give more to social development activities."

 

Nguyen Ngoc Dao, member of the NA Law Committee, said Vietnam should have laws to strengthen the role of the government.

 

Dao said many festivals are aimed at gratifying individuals and are not civilized.

 

He said the government should decide how many festivals each city or province should organize and how much to spend on them.

 

Though the matter of costing festivals has not yet earned an official debate at any NA meeting, Dao said laws are necessary now that the public have become angered by the situation.

 

These laws will instruct on how to organise the festivals, the government's role in the event, how the money is spent and where the proceeds should go, he said.

 

Thi also said Vietnam needs a Festival Code but before that, the country needs to enforce current specific regulations.

 

Waste from festivals is also due to poor planning, he said. "In Hue, getting rid of a range of trees just to set up a stage is unreasonable. Or at a festival, people hang too many flags and banners that are not all necessary. White washing streets and digging up sidewalks in preparation for a festival are all extravangances."

 

Organizers think they are making things better, but they fail and money and resources have been wasted in the process.

Some events are aimed at promoting Vietnam to tourists, especially foreign ones, but when they don't come, that's another waste, Thi said.

 

Festivals are there to satisfy the spiritual demand of residents, so they should happen, but they have to carried out sensibly, he said. 

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