Jul 30, 2019 / 19:31

20 state agencies in Vietnam fail to comply with budget transparency regulation

The Hanoitimes - The report showed disappointing results, indicating shortcomings in the process of budget management at state agencies.

Twenty state agencies at ministerial level out of 37 under the survey of the Ministry Open Budget Index (MOBI) 2018 failed to disclose information regarding budget execution, according to MOBI 2018 report. 
 
Overview of the conference. Source: Nguyen Tung.
Overview of the conference. Source: Nguyen Tung.
The report, jointly launched by the Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation (BTAP) Alliance and the Center for Development and Integration (CDI), was the first of its kind in Vietnam to assess the transparency level in budget management at ministerial-level agencies. 

“Five of the 17 agencies that have disclosed budget information only did so for the sake of formality,” said Vu Sy Cuong from the Academy of Finance at the launch of the report on July 30. 

Moreover, the disclosure of information is limited to numbers without any explanation, “it is therefore difficult for normal people to understand the expenditure process of those agencies,” Cuong added. 

“The results show the lack of compliance to transparency requirement in the Law on State Budget,” he stated. 

The assessment of MOBI is divided into four categories, including category A, being assessed as “full disclosure” and score in range of 75 – 100, category B or “moderate disclosure” with score ranging from 50 to 75, category C or “insufficient disclosure”, with score between 25 – 50, and category D with “low disclosure”, or score below 25. 

In the MOBI 2018 report, national broadcaster Vietnam Television (VTV) claimed the top spot with 21.91 points out of the maximum 100, which is still under the category of “low disclosure”, followed by Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union and the Ministry of Finance with 19.76 points and 18.52 points, respectively. 

Meanwhile, agency with the highest budget allocation, namely the Ministry of Transport, with VND58.56 trillion (US$2.53 billion) in 2019 was ranked 13rd with only 3.7 points. 

Other ministries such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Training with ranks 4th, 5th, and 6th in the list of state agencies with highest budget allocation in 2019, did not disclose any information related to budget spending on their respective websites. 

The report also revealed 10 out of 37 state agencies released their budget estimation for 2019, accounting for 27% of the total, while only one has provided such information at a timely manner. 

Meanwhile, only one agency released budget spending report for 9-month period and the year of 2018, and none has released information for the first three and six months of 2018. 

Pham Dinh Cuong, expert at the World Bank, said the report showed disappointing results, indicating shortcomings in the process of budget management at state agencies. 

“It is not difficult to release information on state budget, so the poor budgetary transparency is due to the low awareness of state agencies,” Cuong added.

Vu Sy Cuong from the Academy of Finance, suggested the National Assembly to supervise the information disclosure on state budget from ministries, taking the issue as one of the main criteria to evaluate the performance of these agencies. 

CDI’s Director Ngo Minh Huong said a greater transparency would help build trust among citizens and Vietnam’s partners for development in budget management at state agencies. 

In June, BTAP, CDI and the Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) launched the Provincial Open Budget Index (POBI) report, revealing less than half of Vietnam's 63 provinces and cities failed to obtain the average score of 50. 

Vietnam’s two major economic hubs Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City stood in the category C in the POBI report with scores of 49.72 and 48.98, respectively.