Administrative reform will not be very effective if information technology is not applied, a Ho Chi Minh City leader has warned.

Speaking at a meeting with the city People's Council on July 10, Deputy Chairman of the People's Committee Le Manh Ha said information technology and administration should be closely linked, and pointed to the Republic of Korea, which he said has achieved such good social and economic development thanks to their investment in information technology.

"It will be a great challenge to serve the city of 10 million people without information technology."

For many years administrative reform has only partly made use of information technology and so the results have been moderate, he said.

Le Hoai Trung, Deputy Director of the Department of Home Affairs, who was questioned by deputies of the municipal People’s Council about the effectiveness of reform, said the time it takes for registering the civil status of a child under six has been shortened to five days from nearly a month.

"People needed to visit several times for completing the procedures. Now they need to come just once. We work with the post office to send documents home."

This model would also be applied in other sectors, he said.

He spoke about putting administrative works online so that citizens do not have to visit government offices and queue up for a long time.

Nguyen Thi Quyet Tam, Chairwoman of People's Council, said the Department of Tax has received some praise from the public for administration reform, but there are still a lot of complaints.

Le Xuan Duong, deputy head of the department, said his agency gets more than 100 million applications a year, but admitted that "administration reform is very necessary, especially during the global integration period."

In the past companies and individuals had to declare their tax liability 12 times a year, but now they have to do it only four times, he said.

Completing procedures for a tax refund has come down to six days from 15, and tax registration, to three days from five, he said.

"To simplify procedures and reduce the waiting time, the use of information technology is vital. The department has a pilot programme to declare tax online.

"Around 132,000 enterprises in the city have registered to declare tax online."

According an official from the City’s Department of Information and Communication, the one-door digital system installed in all districts allows officials to work online.

But its efficacy has been found wanting because it has not been linked down to the ward level, he said.

Ha said HCM City has the best information technology system in the country but its officials' IT knowledge is among the worst, and blamed it on the attitude of senior officials.

While all departments and districts in the city are provided with digital mail boxes, their rate of use is only 40 percent, he pointed out.

"We are given a very good car, but we do not know how to drive it."

Tam concurred with him, saying application of information technology is an important factor in administrative reform.

"The office of the People's Council sends emails to departments and districts, but we do not get replies. So we have to make phone calls."

Ha said some documents remain in limbo for up to two years, and called for reducing paperwork. The city is trying to bring all administrative procedures online, including registration of civil status and businesses, obtaining land use rights, and issue of work permits for foreigners.-VNA