VietNamNet Bridge – Communal-level authorities in Ha Noi's rural areas say they are struggling to draft their socio-economic development plans due to an overload of work and shortage of funding sources.
HTML clipboard A man travels on a quiet rural road in Ha Noi's Chuong My District. Rural areas in the capital city's boundaries are struggling to meet new national standards on socio-economic development. (Photo: VNS)
Difficulties in drafting the socio-economic development plans mean some communes may fail to reach national criteria on "new rural communes". According to the national programme on new rural development approved last June, every commune must draft master plans that outline how the commune will reach 19 criteria on basic fields including infrastructure, education, healthcare, culture, environment and employment.
One of first provinces or cities in the country to initiate the programme, Ha Noi selected 19 communes last year to take part, including Thuy Huong in Chuong My District, Dai Ang of Thanh Tri District, Song Phuong of Dan Phuong District and Mai Dinh of Soc Son District.
Of the city's 401 rural communes involved, it was hoped 45 per cent would be able to meet national standards by 2015 and 70 per cent by 2020.
Under the city's master plan, by the end of this year, all 401 communes would have to complete their plans for developing new rural models in their localities. However, few rural communes had completed the plans, said the head of the municipal Finance Department's Local Budget Management Division, Nguyen Xuan Hung, who is also a member of a group assisting the Steering Committee for the New Rural Model.
In addition, planners at district and commune levels still lack proper understanding, skills and consistency in assessing local conditions – the basic foundation to any successful plan.
"This has resulted in poor quality planning activities and many plans now need adjusting," said Hung.
Nearly 140 communes are falling behind on drafting land-use and infrastructure plans to ensure local production activities, and 188 others need to review and change their plans.
In the area of socio-economic and environmental infrastructure, planning matters are even worse, with 362 communes, accounting for over 80 per cent of total, yet to start on their plans and another 64 communes needing to adjust their planning. As many as 247 communes have not made plans on development of residential areas, while 124 other communes need to adjust their plans.
Hung said the city now had to review and complete 376 plans and draft over 700 new plans. "That's a lot of work, especially when the estimated funds for the city's planning are about VND94 billion (US$4.5 million) in total. On average, each commune is expected to allocate about VND234 million ($11,000) on planning," he said.
Ta Manh Hung, chairman of Song Phuong People's Committee, said the commune had completed about 40 projects since last July, mostly on upgrading roads, schools and culture houses at hamlets, with work needing to begin on 70 other projects.
"There are many things to do but we don't have enough qualified staff," said Hung. "The commune had to hire experts from the universities of Agriculture and Construction to draft the plans."
Projects were also being carried out at a sluggish pace, hindered by bureaucracy and slow progress on mobilising funds.
Hung said land clearance was one of the greatest difficulties as some residents affected by rezoning were not satisfied with compensation offers and didn't fully understand development plans.
"This requires better communication activities and adjustment in the compensation policy," he said.
According to Ha Noi People's Committee, the city needs nearly VND32 trillion ($1.5 billion) to develop new rural areas in 401 communes. VND18 trillion ($858 million) will be earmarked from the State budget for the task, but the remainder must be mobilised from businesses, the community and residents.
Deputy director of the municipal Finance Department Ngo Duc Trung said each commune was allocated about VND40 billion ($1.9 million) for the task, despite communes asking for VND150 to 200 billion ($ 7.15-9.5 million) to do the job.
Trung said a huge amount of money was still needed, which meant communes must scramble to mobilise funds.
"It's also necessary to draft schemes for disbursement of funds, release guidelines on the matter and ensure inspection of how money is disbursed," he said.
Communes carrying out the pilot programmes auctioned land-use rights to local public land to raise funds.
VietNamNet/Viet Nam News