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The Vietnamese government has endorsed plans to invite the private sector, non-governmental organisations and civil society groups to engage in its policy-making process.
This is reflected in the Vietnam Partnership Document (VPD) completed by the government in association with international donors and organisations.
Cao Manh Cuong, vice head of the Ministry of Planning and Investment's Foreign Economic Relations Department, told VIR that the initiative was "totally new to Vietnam."
The government, Cuong said, would be "totally open" to the participation of the private sector, CSOs and INGOs in its policy-making, especially private enterprises as the policies would greatly affect their business performance.
"This will be a big advance," Cuong said. "Vietnam's socio-economic development must be joined by all economic sectors and international organisations."
United Nations resident coordinator's office acting head Peter Reeh and World Bank country officer Mette Frost Bertelsen praised the decision.
They said the participation of the private sector, civil society organisations (CSOs) and international non-government organisations (INGOs) in the government's policy making process was "a must" as the relationship between the Vietnamese government and donors had been shifting from official development assistance (ODA)-based support relationship to equal development partnership.
"The participation of private enterprises, CSOs and INGOs will provide more inputs to Vietnam's socio-economic development, helping better the government's policy effectiveness," Reeh said.
At present, private enterprises, CSOs and INGOs largely stood outside the government's policy making process, said Cao Vinh Hai, director of Consulting Centre for Environment-Resources and Rural Poverty Alleviation.
The VPD has been presented for endorsement to the Annual Consultative Group Meeting in Hanoi on December 10, 2012. The VDP will be implemented from 2012 to 2015 with many actions carrying forward to 2020 in service of Vietnam's socio-economic development.
Under the VPD, "the government commits to implement policies and measures to support fair competition, a positive business environment and expanded private sector participation in development agendas, including domestic and foreign investment in infrastructure development through public-private partnership."
MPI Deputy Minister Cao Viet Sinh said the government would encourage the private sector, including foreign direct investment. The government would also strengthen policy and institutional frameworks to promote private investment in infrastructure development.
The VPD also stated that by expanding partnerships with civil society, "Vietnam's government commits to create an enabling environment to facilitate the participation of CSOs and INGOs in achievement of the socio-economic development plan development agenda."
Sinh said the government would promote a favourable policy and institutional environment for the participation of local CSOs and INGOs in development agendas. The government would also support the establishment of a local CSO resource centre for the purposes of coordination, capacity strengthening and information sharing.
The VPD would be specified by sectors devising their own action plans in cooperation with the private sector, CSOs and INGOs.
Cuong said within the VPD, the MPI was drafting a decree to replace the government's Decree 131/2006/ND-CP on ODA management and use. Under the new decree, the private sector would be allowed to join ODA-funded projects. So far, no private enterprise could do any such projects.
"This will be a big advance. Vietnam's socio-economic development must be joined by all economic sectors and international organisations," Cuong said.