NA Standing Committee discusses use of leftover budget

The National Assembly Standing Committee discussed adjustments to this year’s central budget expenditures on Thursday as well as the use of money left over from 2016.
Steel products of the Thai Nguyen Laminated Steel Factory in the northern province of Thai Nguyen. (Photo: VNA/VNS)
Steel products of the Thai Nguyen Laminated Steel Factory in the northern province of Thai Nguyen. (Photo: VNA/VNS)
The NA’s Finance and Budget Committee has agreed to funnel these sums to other more urgent projects in the fields of national defence and cryptography.
According to the Government’s report, nearly VND868 billion (US$38 million) allocated for a number of proposed projects has been reclaimed since they did not meet requirements or were no longer needed.
Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said the Government had taken back VND180 billion reserved for the construction of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ new headquarters and expansion of the national bank note printing factory due to their slow disbursement (below 30 per cent). The Government also reclaimed nearly VND690 billion from other projects.
Phung Quoc Hien, NA vice chairman, said that reclamation of unused budgets is the right thing to do, but accountability and transparency of the budget re-funneling is also important, adding that “allocation of budgets for projects without detailed estimation is unconstitutional.”
Speaking at the meeting, NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan pointed out a number of unresolved issues, including the question of whether to keep funding localities that have not used up the previous year’s budget.
“The priority for this year should be mid-term public investment projects or projects of pressing importance; the reclaimed budget could be used to repair infrastructure components that have sustained damages in recent floods in the northern region,” Ngan said.
Regarding the leftover budget from 2016, the NA’s Standing Committee was unanimous in allocating nearly VND1.7 trillion ($74 million) from the central budget to counter reduced revenues from seven localities (due to objective reasons such as falling oil prices, drought, or the Formosa environmental incident).
HCM City, the locality whose contribution to the central budget frequently exceeds targets, should have received VND2.2 trillion ($96.8 million) for 2016 as per a special financial mechanism afforded to the city.
However, as Minister of Finance Dinh Tien Dung said, this amount was considered “far beyond the central budget’s capability,” so the NA’s Standing Committee decided to give the city back VND500 billion – equal to the excess revenue it contributed to the central budget in 2016 as compared to its assigned target.
Many NASC members agreed with the capital revocation, adding that the Government needs to order its ministries and sectors to learn from experience in budget estimating, while adhering to the allocation criteria and principles and the planned disbursement progress. They must also clarify the causes of slow capital disbursement so as to devise solutions.
NA Chairwoman Ngan also pointed out the responsibility of the Ministry of Planning and Investment, ministries, sectors, as well as the NA’s Committee for Financial and Budgetary Affairs and the NASC in project verification and submission to the parliament for budget allocation approval.
She stressed after budget estimates are made, new policies must not be issued to avoid an increase of needed capital.

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