Dr. Nguyen Van Binh, director of the Department of Policies and Legal Affairs under the General Department of State Reserves, talks to Viet Nam Financial Times about the need to secure more resources for the national reserve.
What steps has Vietnam taken in the past few years regarding the national reserve?
National reserve activities have played a very important role in stabilising the country's production and people's livelihoods as well as protecting national security. These tasks were defined in Party Central Committee Resolution No 39 which was issued on January 15, 2019.
The resolution stated that by 2025, the country’s national reserve must be between 0.8-1 per cent of its GDP. By 2035, it should be raised to 1.5 per cent of the GDP and the figure would be 2 per cent by 2045.
In the past few years, Vietnam has faced challenges in balancing its annual State budget. The Government has done its best to raise the annual budget allocation for procurement activities to make sure all the national conservation targets are met.
What has the State reserve sector done to mobilise more resources from society to solidify the State reserves?
So far, all national reserve activities have been successful in mobilising capital from the informal sector to conserve and protect essential goods and articles for the people and the nation. To do that all organisations and enterprises, regardless of their economic status, are encouraged to provide their services, including storage and preservation services, as long as the private companies could meet the requirements.
Currently, agricultural goods for reserve purposes under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and the Ministry of Industry and Trade are all eligible to be kept in storages by private companies, which helps ease the infrastructure investment pressure on the State.
Can you talk in more detail about specific requirements in the mobilisation of non-State resources in accordance with the Law on National Reserves?
We should launch a study to determine how to mobilise more resources for the national reserves. In addition, there are three things we must do right now.
First, the Law on the State Budget only requires the utilisation of the Central State budget – local responsibilities have not been provided for in the law. The reality is that some localities with developed economies have suggested to use their own budget to contribute goods to the State reserves for use in local emergency cases. However, this remains an issue to be discussed because there's no existing legal mechanism that would allow this.
Second, we need more attractive and practical policies to encourage all organisations and individuals to participate in national reserve activities. We need policies to encourage them to contribute more – both in terms of facilities and research regarding the preservation and storage of State reserve goods.
And finally, all the national resources reserved for emergencies or wars must be subject to the Law on National Reserve, the Law on Natural Disaster Prevention and Control, the Law on Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases and other relevant documents.
What should we do to enforce the laws more efficiently?
We need to amend the Law on the State Budget to enable all provinces and cities which are affiliated with the Central Government to use their own local budgets, including the anti-natural disaster fund, to respond to emergencies in their localities.
We also need a more specific policy or guideline to encourage all organisations and enterprises to participate in national reserve activities, including in the application of science and technology in information management.
Last but not least, we need strong co-operation from all involved agencies to develop more resources for the national reserve during processes from planning, strategy development to budget allocation.