A lack of money has halted the implementation of a Government project aiming to turn Viet Nam into an information technology (IT) powerhouse by 2020.
The project, approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in September 2010, has not seen much progress.
Part of the project's plan is to apply e-Government at all State-owned agencies from communal to central levels.
But according to the Ministry of Information and Communications, to date, 31 out of 63 provinces and cities across the country have not developed plans to implement the project.
Most local authorities say they don't know where or how to start.
Cao Dang Phuong, head of the ministry's representative office in Da Nang City, said only seven out of 16 provinces and cities in the central region had plans to carry out the project.
"This is a major project from the ministry. In order to make it feasible, localities must map out their own plans. The slow implementation in each locality has detained the overall progress," Phuong said.
Ho Quang Thanh, director of the Department of Information and Communications in central Nghe An Province, said that the biggest problem for most localities was the lack of funds for implementation.
With a wide area, the province will face many difficulties relating to infrastructure development. Local authorities don't know where to appeal for more capital, according to Thanh.
While just approximately one-third of the provinces and cities across the country could be self-financed, the rest mainly relied on support from the Government, he added.
To Thi Thu Huong, deputy director of the ministry's IT Department, said: "This is a big project and to bring it into practice is a challenge as there is no financial source for it."
The ministry has registered to carry out part of the project in 2012 at a cost of VND55.4 billion (US$2.6 million), but the lack of funding has hindered its implementation.
Likewise, for 32 localities that have worked out plans to carry out the project, the plans remain on paper.
Nguyen Van Hai from the ministry's IT Application Promotion Department told Thoi bao Ngan Hang (Banking Times) newspaper that VND100 billion (US$4.8 million) had been approved to execute plans at different ministries and localities this year, but he claimed that was still too small an amount.
Hai, however, also understood that the project was born at the time of economic downturn, when the Government issued Decree No 11 that called for public spending cuts to control inflation and stabilise the macro economy.
To remove "obstacles" to the project's implementation, the ministry was reviewing its financial mechanism and specifying tasks on the list of priorities to propose to the Government for allocating funds.
Hai also said the list would be submitted to Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan within this month, so some could be carried out next year.
The project's targets
By 2020, the IT industry is expected to contribute between 8 to 10 per cent of the country's GDP and its revenue growth to be doubled or tripled that of the GDP growth rate.
Up to 30 per cent of IT students who graduate from universities will be qualified to fill international market openings by 2015, and 80 per cent by 2020.
The number of internet users will account for over 50 per cent of the population by 2015 and over 60 per cent by 2020.
Domestic enterprises are urged to design and produce equipment to replace imported products by 2015 to make Viet Nam among the top 10 suppliers of software processing service and digital content.
The broadband infrastructure will be expanded to almost all rural villages and hamlets, and the mobile broadband network will cover up to 95 per cent of the national population by 2020.
Viet Nam is also set to emerge among the top three leading nations in the UN ranking in readiness for e-Government. The Vietnamese e-Government is set to rank above average in the world.