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Some positive achievements have been gained in the last five years of implementing the resolution. In 2020, service sectors made up 40 percent of GDP, and non-business public service units 5.92 percent.

In 2021, the number of civil servants decreased by 10.01 percent, and the number of officers at non-business public units fell by 11.67 percent. The re-arrangement and payroll streamlining in 2017-2021 helped cut the budget's expenditures by VND25 trillion.

Deputy Chief Secretariat of the Ho Chi Minh National Academy of Politics Phan Tien Ngoc said the mechanism applied to units is called ‘self-reliance’ rather than ‘self-control’ or autonomy. Under the current ‘self-reliance’ mechanism, scientists, rectors of universities and directors of public hospitals have to try to earn money to feed the system. They spend time seeking jobs to ensure incomes for thousands of officers, while their main functions are working as scientists or doctors who treat disease.

“The problem was mentioned 4-5 years ago at some seminars. We then warned that if the mechanism was applied, some hospital directors and school rectors may be sent to prison,” Ngoc said.

He said a hospital has dozens of officers to manage assets of VND4-5 trillion, while local authorities have hundreds of officers to manage a budget expenditure item worth only VND500 billion, under the supervision of many agencies.

Ngoc suggested that non-business public units not be designed as enterprises. In providing public services, there are services which could be done by the private sector and the services should be assigned to the sector. The State should only do things which the private sector cannot do.

Ngoc pointed out the inconsistency in regulations on pricing. The state on one hand said prices are defined by the market, but on the other hand it sets price ceilings, especially in the healthcare sector.

“The Hanoi-based Bach Mai and Vietnam-Germany Friendship Hospitals are leading units in the field which provide high-quality services and carry out scientific research to transfer technology to hospitals at lower levels. However, because of the self-reliance mechanism, they have to treat common diseases which can be done by lower-level hospitals,” he said.

The State has invested a lot in these hospitals. Analysts believe that if the investment items are put into operation, all hospitals at district and province levels would be idle. 

It is necessary to spend big money on district and provincial hospitals to upgrade their capability.

Ngoc said that many ministries and branches have institutes under their management. At first, the institutes only served the management of state agencies, but recently they have rushed to provide training services to society.

“There are too many training establishments which lead to the situation of ‘the state competing with the state’. Is it necessary that the state provide money so that state’s units compete with each other?” he said, adding that state agencies need to re-define the missions of non-business public units and merge, dissolve or transfer the units to localities.

Ngoc said that many ministries and branches don’t need to keep hospitals. The hospitals were established in the subsidy period which were in charge of treating professional diseases. It would be better to transfer the hospitals to localities or private investors.

“It is necessary to reform the thinking, so that non-business public units can enjoy the autonomy and become responsible themselves, and the State just needs to inspect and give assessments, not make interventions with administrative commands,” he said.

Thu Hang