Permanent member of the National Assembly’s Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs Bui Duc Thu spoke with Nhan Dan (People) newspaper about budget management and use of official development assistance (ODA) on the sidelines of the 13th NA's eight session.

*Many NA deputies voiced their concerns over the losses and wastefulness in managing and using ODA. As permanent member of the NA Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs, what do you think about this?

I see that ODA sources have made great contributions to national socio-economic development. However, inspections showed that there are ineffective ODA projects which are not in urgent need of investment. In addition, many ODA projects adopt regulations on foreign contractors or the mandatory use of materials and fuel of ODA donor countries which increase project expenditures and reduce the effective use of ODA.

The NA Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs has exercised supervision and made reports on public debt issues including problems and recommendations. But, it needs supervision at a higher level from the NA Standing Committee or the NA to turn out a more comprehensive review of the issue. With such large-scale supervision in co-ordination with Government support and a clearer overview of the public debt situation, hindrances and solutions will be mapped out.

*What are the difficulties in monitoring ODA capital? Is there any 'restricted area'?

We have no 'restricted area' in managing investment capital, public finance and debts. Even security issues still undergo audit and inspection under the security mechanisms.

It is difficult for the NA to supervise objectives using ODA sources as they are spread out over ministries, departments and localities. In addition, the NA Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs faces challenges in monitoring individual ODA project as the Committee mainly conducts overall supervision. Thus, it is necessary to use other State tools such as State Audit to assist the NA in dealing with this issue.

*It was suggested that Vietnam should 'graduate' from ODA. Do you think this is appropriate while the budget is limited and the country needs investment capital for development?

Vietnam has an enormous demand for capital to invest in the economy and to achieve its goals set out for industrialisation and modernisation. Foreign capital sources are of great importance as domestic sources cannot help fulfil the targets.

Moreover, borrowing ODA loans has more advantages than mobilising from internal sources. In recent years, along with budget overspending, capital mobilised for Government bonds and rollover loans, Vietnam has to borrow an additional 400 trillion VND (18.8 billion USD). But the interest rates of commercial loans are higher than ODA loans and repayment pressure is very high.

*How can Vietnam effectively manage and use ODA sources?

As I've mentioned above, we only grant ODA to necessary and urgent projects. In addition, ODA projects should follow a series of regulations. For instance, the cost per unit of an ODA project must be lower than that of a corresponding project using domestic sources. I suggest stopping ODA projects with a high cost per unit during the investment appraisal.-VNA