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Vietnam SOEs yet to publicize financial information as required

09/08/2016

Multiple Vietnamese state-owned enterprises (SOEs) are withholding information required by state law to be publicly disclosed, symptomatic of the lack of transparency in the country’s public sector.

In 2015, the Vietnamese government issued Decree No. 81, requiring SOEs to publicize information regarding their activities including development plans, production plans, and financial statements.

Mobifone, a state-owned mobile carrier, was later caught trying to conceal its acquisition of a local pay TV operator, and it is this kind of lack of transparency that seems to be the norm, not the exception, among SOEs.

An official from the Ministry of Planning and Investment confirmed that out of almost a hundred SOEs, very few had followed the guidelines established by Decree No. 81.

Out of twenty-two ministries within the government, some, such as the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education and Training, had received no report on the publication of information from the SOEs under their supervision, while others had received very few.

Similarly, many locales, such as Hai Duong, Thai Nguyen, Vinh Phuc and Can Tho City, have not heard from local SOEs regarding the matter.

Despite the fact that the Ministry of Planning and Investment has sent an official dispatch reminding 132 departments, agencies, and companies about the publishing of information required under Decree No. 81, many SOEs are yet to comply.

State Capital Investment Corporation, an SOE that manages state-owned capital, has published its information up until 2015 only.

PetroVietnam, the state-owned oil and gas group, has released its financial statement for the first six months of the same year.

Viettel, another mobile phone carrier, has publicized a salary report that is only six pages in length, much shorter than the template required by the government.

According to an official from the Department of Ministry and Planning, publicizing information forces SOEs to carefully consider decisions related to matters that will later be made publicly available, thus creating a change in management style and fostering a culture of transparency.

Dr. Do Duc Dinh, chairman of the Scientific Council at the Center of Socio-Economic Studies, claimed that the reason behind SOEs’ reluctance to publicize information is the inherent lack of transparency of an entire system.

Many SOEs have set up unofficial funds for extravagant spending and for the benefits of ‘underground’ interests.

A prime example is the scandal in which a subsidiary company of one SOE spent VND500 million (US$22,420) on a birthday party for the boss’ father.

The solution, according to Dr. Dinh, is increased equitization and privatization of SOEs, which will pressure them to change as their activities become more closely monitored by shareholders. 

TUOI TRE NEWS

Updated : 08/09/2016 15:13 GMT + 7

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