“Personally, Project 30 is an unforgettable memory not only for me, but also to hundreds of governmental staff, lawyers, businessmen, researchers and reporters who have directly and indirectly taken part in the project”
Nguyen Xuan Phuc Minister, Chairman of the Government Office - image source:chinhphu.vn
Project 30 - or the Master Plan of Administrative Procedure Simplification in the field of state management for 2007-2010, as it is officially known - has seen full-scale implementation with everyone from state administrative agencies to the business community and ordinary people getting onboard.
Minister, Chairman of the Government Office Nguyen Xuan Phuc tells VIR about the impact of the project and outlines the government’s future action plans to enhance Vietnam’s business climate and competitiveness.
Acting as the head of Prime Minister’s Administrative Procedure Reform Special Task Force, it seems true to say that your image has been attached to Project 30 progress?
Frankly speaking, when the Prime Minister decided to initiate the Project 30 and assign specific functions to our special task force, my feelings were mixed. On one hand, we were really glad to see the governmental and the prime ministerial determination and great efforts interpreted into action plans in the path toward transparent and sustainable administrative procedure reforms in which the business community and the ordinary people are the centre-pieces. On the other hand, we could not help worrying at the huge workload that needed to be carried out in a short period of time with limited resources.
What do you think are the Project 30’s most significant achievements during the past few years?
I would like to emphasise that 2010 was a successful milestone year for the Project 30. The success in administrative procedure simplification has been illustrated in a wide range of business sectors.
For example, regarding invoicing procedures, businesses in Vietnam were allowed to print and circulate their own invoices from January 1, 2011 and they are required to merely notify the Ministry of Finance of their invoice forms.
This move is expected to save businesses around VND400 billion ($20 million) a year. Similarly, regarding tax declarations and collections, a smarter classification of tax declarers also helps businesses cut costs by VND1 trillion ($50 million) a year.
As far as customs procedures are concerned, a raft of administrative procedure simplification moves such as widespread introduction of e-customs and implementation of one-stop shop customs among others have seen businesses cut costs by VND600 billion ($30 million) a year.
In the construction sector, as a result of removal of construction fees and removal of construction permit extension, individuals and businesses can save VND1.4 trillion ($70 million) in construction permit application process.
In a related success, an estimated amount of VND1 trillion ($50 million) could be saved by the business community a year after absurd procedures were pared off in such sectors as labour, social insurance and public security.
Noteworthy, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development said in its evaluation report of the Project 30 during 2007-2010 that ‘Vietnam’s success will provide useful lessons for other emerging nations which are also in the process of administration reforms.’
Is it true that the classification and removal of any absurd administrative procedures was the toughest job for Project 30 stakeholders?
I would like to share the fact that the workload outlined in the Project 30 was really huge and challenging, particularly in the process of reviewing and streamlining numerous administrative procedures to finalise which needed to be removed.
his process required our special task force to be devoted, smart and determined before making lucid decisions to immediately get rid of any administrative procedures which are to the detriment of the local people and the business community.
We take pride in seeing our special task force’s services and efforts acknowledged since Vietnam’s first national database on administrative procedures were made public in October, 2009 and the Resolution No25/ND guiding simplification of 258 administrative procedures was introduced in June, last year.
As soon as the national database on administrative procedures was loaded on the internet, we received a lot of positive feedback from the local people and business community, many of whom said the database was a useful tool for them when applying for administrative formalities.
Our happiness grows as the local people and business community gain easier access to transparent administrative procedures and competent management authorities are committed to the common action plans of the Project 30.
So far, the special task force has proposed the government streamline as many as 5,000 administrative procedures at competent management authorities of all levels. Accordingly, 4,818 administrative procedures were revised, 484 pared off and 192 others replaced, helping to cut the local people and businesses’ costs by VND30 trillion ($1.5 billion).
In your evaluation, what is the key to the aforementioned success?
I should emphasise that the initial success of the Project 30 resulted from determination and unified efforts of the Party, the National Assembly, the government, the Prime Minister, relevant management authorities, the business community and the people.
For the special task force, our valuable lesson is how to raise public awareness, from state staff, the business community and the people, about the needs of administration reforms. Therefore, mobilisation of all stakeholders, particularly the business community and the people to participate in administration reforms in a proactive manner is one of our new approaches to ensure administration reform objectives will be met.
During the implementation of the Project 30, we established an advisory council with 15 members coming from research institutes, domestic and foreign business associations. We also developed a working mechanism getting businesses and local people involved with reviewing and streamlining administrative procedures and providing advice and recommendations as well.
Personally, the Project 30 is an unforgettable memory not only for me, but also to hundreds of governmental staff, lawyers, businessmen, researchers and reporters who have directly and indirectly taken part in the project. I highly appreciate their contributions, which reflect their responsibility to the country’s socio-economic growth.
Which is priority action plan in place to maintain the achievements of the Project 30 in the coming period?
One of post-Project 30’s biggest challenges is to carry out specific action plans to simplify almost 5,000 administration procedures. We calculated that competent management agencies at the central level would be required to amend, supplement and remove 1,000 legal documents in relate to existing laws, governmental decrees, prime ministerial decisions, ministerial circulars among others.
At the local level, around 3,000 legal documents would be required to be revised. This is really a huge load of work, needing proactive leadership of the Party, the National Assembly and the government, and creative implementation of competent management authorities.
To enhance effectiveness and transparency compliance of the Project 30, the government issued the Decree 63/ND-CP dated June 8, 2010 aiming to supervise the drafting and introduction of any new legal document based on four criteria of necessity, rationality, legality and efficiency.
In the time to come, the government will strengthen capacity building of all Project 30 stakeholders and effectively enact the Decree 20/2008/ND-CP providing guidance for receiving and resolving local people and businesses’ complaints of existing administrative procedures which affect their lives and business activities.
I believe that improvement of human resources and reinforcement of cooperation between the local people and business community with state management bodies are pivotal factors to accomplish the set objectives.