The State Audit of Vietnam has voiced concerns that it is unable to put under control all public investment projects, though irregularities to some extent have been uncovered in all those projects that are inspected.
The operation scale of the State Audit is rather small compared to the demand of supervising and controlling projects using the State budget, State money and properties, said Vu Thanh Hai, a senior official from the State Audit.
“The number of projects and investment costs audited only accounts for a small proportion of the total State budget spending for this sector, and thus our audit results are limited,” Hai said at a conference on auditing public investments jointly held by the State Audit of Vietnam and the UK-based Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) on Wednesday in Hanoi.
According to Hai, the State Audit can only audit around 200 projects each year while the country has tens of thousands of projects which are being deployed.
This is a very tiny number compared to 38,420 ongoing projects carried out last year, said Nguyen Xuan Tu, head of the Investment Supervision and Appraisal Department under the Ministry of Planning and Investment.
In addition, according to the ministry’s annual report on investment control and evaluation, there were 24,460 public projects carried out in 2005, some 27,370 in 2006, over 28,700 in 2007, over 28,900 in 2008 and 29,680 in 2009.
The State Audit can audit only some 50 percent of provinces and cities and 40 percent of ministries and central agencies, 50 percent of districts in a province and around two to three communes in a district each year.
However, agencies that are audited have similar wrongdoings such as the slow implementation, wrong acceptance and capital allocation seen at most projects.
Besides, some localities even convert investment capital into regular spending, Hai added.
There were 38,420 projects carried out last year worth a total of around VND439 trillion, or roughly $21 billion. Among these projects, the ministry has detected 100 projects violating investment procedures, 47 projects committing violations in quality management, and 145 others using capital improperly.
Tran Dinh Thien, director of the Vietnam Institute of Economics, said that the investment capital needed for central and local projects was nearly $15 billion each year in the 2010-2020 period.
This capital amount is planned for airport projects needing $7.1 billion, coastal economic zones with $13.2 billion, the north-south expressway with $13 billion, urban traffic in HCM City with $19.2 billion, electricity facilities $48.8 billion and Hanoi development planning with $90 billion.
“It is obvious that there will be a capital shortage, which will lead to the prolonged project implementation and conflicts over financial resources between localities. The State resources are insufficient, even for kick-starting projects,” Thien said.
Thien also proposed to amend the State Budget Law, with adjustments focusing on enforcing the fiscal discipline, reducing budget deficit by cutting spending and covering budget deficit by using revenues exceeding the budget estimates.