On 12.6.2019, POBI 2018 Launch Workshop was co-held by Center for Development and Integration and Vietnam Institute for Economic and Policy Research (VEPR) in Ha Noi.
Associate Prof. Dr. Vu Sy Cuong, on behalf of research team, presented main results of POBI 2018 in the workshop. Accordingly, of the 63 provinces surveyed in 2018, 10% of the provinces is “fully open”, 43% “relatively open”, 33% “not-fully open” and 14% are “least open”. Survey findings showed that there is an improvement in provicial budget disclosure: No province has 0 score compared to 4 ones of that score last year. 6 provinces are classified into Group A (fully open) namely Vinh Long, Ba Ria – Vung Tau, Da Nang, Vinh Phuc, Quang Nam and Hau Giang. This year, it is noted that Hau Giang and Tay Ninh have made a great change: they jumped from final ranking to the 6th and 11th rankings. 5 provinces ranked at least in POBI 2018 are Hai Phong, Hoa Binh, Bac Giang, Binh Phuoc, Tuyen Quang. Ha Noi and Ho Chi Minh – the two cities that got a big public budget were under-average scored (below 50 points), against expectation.
In terms of average scores between regions, the Southcentral Coast and Mekong Delta are of the highest rating, followed by the Southeast and the Red River Delta. The North Central region is of the lowest score in 7 regions. In a closer look in regions, Vinh Long ranks first in the Mekong Delta and nationwide, Vinh Phuc tops Red River Delta, Danang tops South Central Coast and Ba Ria Vung Tau tops South East, Quang Tri tops North Central, Kon Tum tops Central Highlands and Cao Bang tops Northern Midlands and Mountainous region.
POBI 2018 had a structural change: In addition to Open Budget pillar, Participation pillar was added; Adding to the 3 criteria of Fullness, Availability and Timeliness, Convenience was added in evaluation of 9 types of budget documents.
In a close evaluation of POBI, experts believed that though there are points to be adjusted, POBI is a tool for provinces and cities to measure its diclosure and transparency of provincial budget management. Fully participation and annual endeavour of improvement is one way that provinces in Viet Nam come to better administrative and fiscal performance and reforms, which contributes to realization of sustainable development commitments, especially in SGD 16 on transparency, accountability and people participation. Involved in POBI, local authorities can monitor and assess their transparency in the budget management in order to improve the effectiveness of local governance.
At the Launch workshop, the Review Council made constructive comments related to research findings. especially for better survey in upcoming years. Mr. Nguyen Minh Tan – Department of Finance and Budget emphasized that the annual adjustments in survey structure are necessary due to changes in policies and context every year. Mr. Tan also said that the fact that “some provinces and cities get incentives in budget allocation” should be considered in the upcoming survey to get a balanced and objective findings. Dr. Le Dang Doanh commented that “Budget Transparency Index” from Indonesia can be a good example for Viet Nam to refer. Mr. Doanh requested that there should be more specific analysis of POBI fidings (instead of just scoring as currently) to find out the interrelationship between POBI and budget management issues such as anti-waste and public spending… Some other comments suggest that People Councils implement POBI as a proactive approach. Accordingly, the local government will self-study and self-assess the process of their provincial budget disclosure.