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Discussions on the Public Investment Law (revised)

16:37 | 16/06/2019

VCN - The Public Investment Law Project (revised) has been discussed and consulted for the last time before being approved at the 7th session of the 14th National Assembly. As an important law for effective use of the state budget, contributing to economic growth, many contents of the Public Investment Law (revised) are attracting attention of the public.

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The most difficult and slowest factor of public investment projects is compensation and site clearance. Photo: ST

Separate site clearance project: Only if necessary

Issued in 2014, the Public Investment Law created a unified, synchronous and complete legal basis, improved the capacity and efficiency of managing investment and using public investment capital. In fact, public investment activities have many shortcomings, so it is necessary to amend the Public Investment Law to improve the efficiency of using this capital.

Regarding the cause of amending the law, Mr. Nguyen Chi Dung, Minister of Planning and Investment (MPI), said that the law was not the main cause. The Minister also affirmed that problems of public investment were due to many difficulties in implementation, especially implementation in localities. They were weakness in quality, arbitrary adjustment and decision-making; being dominated by group interests and short-term thinking, so many of our investment decisions were made arbitrarily. In the implementation, the work on project quality, bidding, site clearance, preparation of deployment documents when allocating capital was very slow, and the revision of this law was to overcome such problems.

Regarding the content of the Law, in fact, there are many contents that have not been agreed including: the separation of compensation, support, resettlement, site clearance into independent projects; the adjustment of criteria for classification of national projects, Group A, B and C projects according to the criteria for capital levels, for urgent projects or for projects without deciding investment policies, competence to consider and decide their medium-term public investment plan.

Regarding the content of separating compensation for site clearance into an independent project, Mr. Nguyen Duc Hai, Chairman of the NA Finance - Budget Committee said, some members of the National Assembly proposed not to separate compensation, support, resettlement and site clearance into independent projects. In case it is necessary to separate for specific public investment projects, a report would be sent to competent authorities for consideration and decision. Accordingly, the Standing Committee of the National Assembly receives in the direction of not regulating the compensation, support, resettlement and site clearance into a separate object, but allowing in necessary cases and only carrying out for national important projects and Group A projects as stipulated in Clause 1, Article 5 of the draft Law. In case the site clearance project is an independent project, it will be managed according to the general regulations like others.

However, regarding this content, Mr. Tran Van Tien, Member of the NA Economic Committee, National Assembly member of Vinh Phuc province, said that the concept, content, criteria for the necessary case should be considered clearly so that the application could be consistent. According to Mr. Tran Van Tien, in actual implementation of group B projects along the route such as transport projects as well as group B projects related to resettlement, all of these projects were behind schedule by many different causes. Of which, the main reason was that the clearance work was complicated.

“In order to improve the efficiency of using public investment capital as well as to meet the investment schedule of the projects, the Group B projects mentioned above are considered to separate the compensation and support for resettlement and site clearance into independent projects in case of necessity for implementation,” said Mr. Tran Van Tien.

Previously, commenting on this issue of the Law project, Ms. Pham Thuy Hanh, Department of Law, Office of the Government also said that in the past, the most difficult problems and the slowest parts of public investment projects was compensation and site clearance. Therefore, the Government's proposal to separate compensation, resettlement support, and site clearance into an independent project was to accelerate the progress of public investment projects, especially for large-scale projects like Long Thanh Airport. However, in order to implement this regulation, it was necessary to review and revise the relevant provisions of the Land Law and the Bidding Law to stipulate the appropriate order and procedures for this type of project.

National important project is “fixed” at 10,000 billion VND

Regarding the criteria for classification of national, Group A, B and C projects, at the discussion session on the Public Investment Law Project (revised), representatives of the Standing Committee of the National Assembly said that many opinions suggested keeping the criteria for total investment in classification of projects as stipulated by the current Law. Meanwhile, the Government and some members of the National Assembly proposed adjusting the capital level of national important projects from 10,000 billion VND to 20,000 billion VND, the capital level of Group A, B, and C projects would increase to match reality.

Regarding this issue, Mr. Hoang Quang Ham, Standing Member of the Committee on Finance and Budget of the National Assembly, said that it should remain the current law because there were no changes according to the law that need to be adjusted, the capital level of 10,000 billion VND was not inadequate, there were only two important national projects submitted to the National Assembly for approval in the National Assembly XIII, XIV.

“For a developing country, two projects a year are too few, the adjustment of the capital increase to VND 20,000 billion may lead to the absence of any projects submitted to the National Assembly. The National Assembly decides important national issues, the adjustment making the National Assembly does not adjust any projects is unreasonable,” said Mr. Hoang Quang Ham.

At the voting session of the National Assembly on this issue, most of the opinions selected option 1, which is to keep the provisions of the current Public Investment Law on the criteria for classification of important national projects at 10,000 billion VND and the criteria to classify projects in groups A, B, and C.

In addition to the criteria above, some other contents have been also controversial. For example, the issue of time to submit and approval of medium-term public investment plans, which is stipulated in Article 59 of the draft law. The draft provides two options. Option 1, the Government submits to the National Assembly a draft medium-term public investment plan in the new period at the year-end meeting of the fifth year of the term for the National Assembly for comments. The new parliament will decide the medium-term public investment plan for the new period. Option 2 will follow the regulations of the current Public Investment Law, which is that the previous National Assembly will decide the plan of the next period at the year-end meeting of the 5th year of the term.

Mr. Le Thanh Van, Standing Member of the Committee on Finance and Budget of the National Assembly wondered about both of these options, because each one has bad and good points. Regarding option 1, on the one hand, it ensures the continuity of the socio-economic task and it can be implemented immediately. On the other hand, it cannot update the spirit of the next National Assembly Resolution, because the previous National Assembly will decide it at the end of the year, but the New National Assembly will be held in the next year. Meanwhile, the National Assembly can decide strategic goals that are different from the public investment plan that National Assembly approved earlier. As for option 2, the advantage is to update the spirit of the National Assembly Resolution but the disadvantage is a delay in implementation. Therefore, Mr. Le Thanh Van proposed a new approach: "On the basis of summarizing the practice, the previous National Assembly builds a plan with the expected allocating resources for the next National Assembly to consider and approve. This option combines the advantages of option 1 and option 2, overcomes the delay in institutionalization and guidelines in the National Assembly Resolution”.

Reportedly, at the recent voting session, there were 65% of delegates in agreement with Plan 1.

Regarding the content of competence to consider the list of medium-term public investment planning projects specified in Article 59 of the draft law, the two options (the first one, the National Assembly decides the list of projects funded by the central budget, in case of necessity, the National Assembly authorizes the Standing Committee of the National Assembly to decide the list and capital level of public investment projects and report to the National Assembly at the first session; and the second one, the National Assembly only decides the list of important national projects and the Government decides the list of projects funded by the central budget) have not received enough agreed votes, so there must be appropriate explanatory steps before approving the Law.

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The explanation for the proposal that the National Assembly only decides the list of important national projects and the Government decides on the list of projects funded by the central budget, the Minister of Planning and Investment said, the National Assembly must still ensure that its authority is the highest decision-making agency, deciding the total investment of 5 years, the investment structure, sectors, localities, regions, criteria, principles and order of priority. The Government must administer in the framework that the Congress has decided. How to operate in a flexible manner was handed over to the Government for implementation and taking responsibility. In my opinion, it would be more convenient for the Government to run tasks like that.

By Hoai Anh/ Ha Thanh