Viet Nam launches $6 M Programme to Empower Elected Bodies

Mar 18, 2003

Ha Noi - The National Assembly (NA), supported by the UN Development Programme (UNDP), Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom launched today an ambitious 5 year programme to enhance the capacities of Viet Nam people’s elected bodies at all levels.

Through two inter-linked projects, of $3 million each, this new effort will both strengthen the legislative, representative and oversight functions of the NA and People’s Councils, and support the budgetary process and oversight role of the Committee for Economic and Budgetary Affairs (CEBA) of the National Assembly.

These projects will be implemented by the Office of the National Assembly (ONA) and the CEBA respectively. The two initiatives are consistent with the recent amendments to the 1992 Constitution that reinforce the rule of law and the Government’s call for a modernized and improved functioning of the State’s representative and legislative bodies.

Mr. Nguyen Duc Kien, Chairman of the CEBA stated that: “The CEBA is very much looking forward to implementing this project which will undoubtedly reinforce the much needed public finance oversight capacities of elected bodies in Viet Nam.” According to Mr. Bui Ngoc Thanh, Chairman of the ONA, the amendments to the 1992 Constitution have significantly increased the power of the NA and People’s Councils but their law making and oversight capacity fall “far behind requirements.”

These initiatives will support the work of the 498 deputies of the 11th legislature. As part of this effort, priority will be placed on training in law making and parliamentary affairs to be provided to help deepen the knowledge and skills base of the 350 newly elected deputies.

“This is a unique and timely opportunity for UNDP and the International Community to support the rule of law, through the empowerment of the highest legislative body and local elected bodies in Viet Nam,” said UNDP Resident Representative, Jordan Ryan. He added: “An effective National Assembly can foster and oversee transparent and accountable institutions and policy frameworks so critical to successful economic growth and human development.”

“Both the NA and People’s Councils are primary pillars of good governance in Viet Nam. They provide the best way to ensure that all citizens, especially the poor, have their voice heard and their needs addressed in an increasingly open and participatory way,” said Mr. Walter Meyer, Regional Coordinator of the Swiss Agency Development Cooperation.

The budgetary oversight capacity of both the NA and People’s Councils will be specifically addressed and strengthened through the CEBA implemented initiative, to allow these institutions to play a full role in the critical fiscal decentralization process underway. Technical cooperation will also be provided to both the Ministry of Finance and the State Audit to strengthen their respective roles and overall coordination in this regard.

Referring to this further element in the UK's involvement in Viet Nam, the British Ambassador H.E. Warwick Morris said: “The role of the National Assembly, the Peoples Councils - and the State Budget - is key to the successful resourcing and implementation of Viet Nam’s Comprehensive Poverty Reduction Strategy. The UK Department for International Development looks forward to working alongside national partners and fellow donors to support the strengthening and empowerment of Viet Nam's elected bodies."

In view of the recent revision of the State Budget Law, which effectively increases budgetary authority of People’s Councils, particular emphasis will focus on strengthening the ability of local elected bodies to understand and oversee the local budget allocation and management process. Similarly, the projects will support the upcoming debate on the amendment of the Law on the Organization of People’s Councils and contribute to the amendment of the local elections rules and procedures and their dissemination prior to the 2004 elections of People’s Councils.

Mr. Dean Frank, Head of Canadian International Development Agency noted: “It’s important that the NA and People’s Councils have the ability to actively participate in the formulation, approval and oversight process of the budget. This process is all about accountability of how public money is spent.”

The project has attracted support from a number of donors keen to play a vital role in assisting Viet Nam’s good governance. Linking with the UNDP, the Governments of Canada, Switzerland and the United Kingdom are committed to working within such a partnership framework in this field.

Mr. Ryan welcomed this move to a harmonized approach: “The formulation and launch of these projects demonstrate how the NA, UNDP and bilateral donors can work together in an effective partnership in support of a common reform agenda.”

Contact informationPublic Information Unit, Tel: 942 1495; Fax: 942 2267

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