The Ministry of Finance has adopted measures to better control public assets as Tran Duc Thang, Director General of the Public Asset Management Department told Tin Tuc (News) Newspaper.

*Will you please provide an overview of the public assets managed by Vietnamese Government offices and organisations across the country?

The term "public asset management" by Government offices and organisations covers buildings, land, cars or anything worth more than 500 million VND (23,500 USD).

According to the latest data released by the Ministry of Finance (MOF), by December 31, 2013, the total public assets managed by the ministry was about 930.2 trillion VND (43.7 billion USD), excluding the public asset used by the armed forces and Vietnamese offices abroad.

The total assets managed by the MOF consisted of those managed by local governments (74.12 percent in value and 87.62 percent in quantity) and central government (25.88 percent in value and 12.38 in quantity).

In 2013, the Government and the Prime Minister adopted various measures to promote the practice of thrift and to combat waste during the implementation of the national plan on socio-economic development.

That is why the increase in public procurement in 2013 mainly came from buying specialised auto-vehicles, health care and education equipment and facilities. In short, the increase in total public assets value last year was 25.3 trillion VND (1.2 billion USD), much smaller than in previous years.

*How do you evaluate the use and management of public assets in recent years?

There has been much improvement. In my opinion, a factor leading to such effective use and good management of public assets is the practice of transparency and accountability in all government agencies/offices across the country.

In addition, the practice of decentralisation and empowerment has enabled public entities, from the centre down to the grassroots level, to make the best use of the public asset they have.

In 2013, the practice of thrift in public procurement was well implemented by ministries, sectors and agencies across the country.

Worthy of note, a pilot project on central procurement launched in 2008 has proven very effective. The project has saved hundreds of billion dong for the state coffer.

Based on lessons learned in the last five years, the MOF has proposed the establishment of a procurement centre. It would offer services relating to public procurement, organise bidding of liquidated assets or lease public assets.

The proposal is now on the Prime Minister's table waiting for approval.

*Does the MOF have any plan to improve public asset management?

In 2014, the MOF will continue to focus more on the management of public assets. For example, we will tighten our control over financial policies so that we can achieve the goal of practising thrift on construction investment and in public asset procurement, particularly in the buying of auto-vehicles.

The other important plan the MOF wants to implement this year is to review the use of public properties (building and land) to make sure they are properly used in the course of national socio-economic development.

Last but not least, the MOF will review all the existing legal documents on the management and use of public asset, including standards and norms applied in public procurement and construction investment.

Our ministry has vowed to strictly penalise violations of the laws on public asset management.-VNA