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Good governance

Taxation training for Civil Society Organizations

In the framework of the cooperation between Oxfam and BTAP, with the sponsorship of the project “Promoting domestic resources in order to improve the quality of public services organized”, a Taxation training for CSOs was held by Oxfam from 08 to 09 August 2016.


The training aims to help civil society organizations get the knowledge about the tax system and be willing to participate in addressing inequalities in taxation.


About 40 participants from civil society organizations of networks such as BTAP, Mnet, Wake it up,, Ech Phu Ho, Mineral Alliance, EBHPD, PAHE amongst others as well as Oxfam officials attended 2 days of training. At the training, Professor Tran Nam Binh (UNSW Australia / RMIT Vietnam), with a rich experience in teaching and studying, helped participants to have an overview of the tax system in the world and Vietnam as well as brought up experiences in the tax system of other countries in the world.


At the end of the training, participants also made an action plan in order to promote equality and efficiency of the tax system in Vietnam.


Workshop: EC project implementation in the second year in Quang Tri province

The project “Promoting transparency, accountability and people participation in managing the state budget” funded by EC through Oxfam has been implemented for 1 year. Entering the second year of the project, the Center for Development and Integration (CDI) with members of 2 BTAP’s core team in Quang Tri province held a workshop in order to agree on the second year project implementation plan in Quang Tri province on the last 3rd and 4th August.


Attending the workshop were delegates of People's Committee, People's Council of the province, Gio Linh and Hai Lang district, 6 communes in the project area, management boards of People’s Council and Women Union of Quang Tri.


Participants jointly discussed on activities for the second year to achieve the goals of the project, in which they also discussed on advantages, challenges and potential solutions for minimizing the difficulties in the implementation process. In addition, participants discussed and gave their opinions on which content the Citizen Budget should have to convey to people in the most comprehensible way.


Closing the workshop, participants agreed on the project implementation plan for the second year as the proposed objectives.


Said Mr. Tran Dang Anh – Deputy of Economic budget committee of Quang Tri People’s Council and Head of BTAP People’s Committee management board: “We always promote the participation of all parties in the process of planning and implementing for all to understand and be responsible for promoting people in the process as well as other common works at the locality.”


The U.S. Role in Vietnam’s Governance - The Asian country’s lofty goals are more likely with open budgets and good governance



[By Vivel Ramkumar | Contributor]

When President Obama arrives in Vietnam this weekend, he will surely praise its leaders for their impressive achievement of sustained economic growth and poverty reduction. He will also talk about the benefits of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, thanking Vietnam for being part of the trade pact. But he should also highlight how modernizing governance can play an essential role in fulfilling Vietnam's aspiration of future prosperity.

Image: Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh shakes hands with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Washington, D.C. in March. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty)

There are signs that the government is acquainted with these issues and the changes they entail. A recent example is the path charted in "Vietnam 2035," a report that the government released earlier this year with the World Bank. (See here.) The report lays out how Vietnam can grow its economy while protecting its environment, promote equity and social inclusion, and improve the state's effectiveness and accountability.

The report highlights the interconnectedness of the economic and governance challenges that Vietnam faces as it enters the next phase in its development. For instance, it points out that Vietnam, as it loses access to concessional financing, will need to rely more on global capital markets, stating that this will "expose the country more directly to the scrutiny of global capital markets and private creditors, placing additional demands on prudent fiscal management and transparency, and the country's creditworthiness more broadly."

This observation is quite timely, as the government has been trying since last year to find an auspicious moment to issue $3 billion of bonds on the international markets. (See here.) In this context, one important way through which the government can woo risk-averse international investors is through increasing fiscal transparency, which is shown to improve the marketability of sovereign bonds.

Vietnam has a poor track record on fiscal transparency, as measured by the International Budget Partnership's Open Budget Index (OBI), an independent assessment of budget transparency. (See here.) The 2015 OBI found that Vietnam did not achieve basic international standards on budget transparency by failing to publish in a timely manner two of the most important budget documents: its budget proposal for the coming year (which the government presents to the legislature for approval) and its audit report (which independently verifies whether the government has executed the authorized budget in line with the law).

Encouragingly, Vietnam seems to be moving in the direction of sharing more information on the national budget with its citizens and international investors. Last year, Vietnam revised its State Budget Law and inserted provisions that require it to publish the state budget and related reports starting from the 2017 budget. This means the government should publish its budget proposal later this year. Having the budget available to the public in advance of being adopted by the National Assembly will be an important and welcome change, creating an opportunity for citizens and civil society to have input into plans for raising and spending public funds.

The significance of the change, however, will depend in part on how much information is presented in the document. It should include detailed estimates of expenditures, revenue, and debt. But it should also shine light on some of the darker corners of fiscal policy, such as extra-budgetary funds, support for state-owned enterprises, and quasi-fiscal activities. And then information on the approved state budget should be complemented later, once the fiscal year is completed, with an assessment of the actual results achieved from the implementation of the budget.

If Vietnam publishes its budget and audit report consistent with international norms, then it will fulfill two key requirements for joining the Open Government Partnership, a global multistakeholder initiative for open and accountable governance. While a number of countries interested in improving their image internationally would like to be a member of the initiative, OGP sets minimum good governance requirements that a country must meet before it can join. (Seehere.) Once a member, a country then lays out an action plan for future changes to promote transparency, empower citizens, and fight corruption - steps that are precisely in line with Vietnam's desire to modernize its economy and bolster the state's effectiveness and accountability.

While Vietnam has been well short of meeting the minimum OGP requirements, with the recent changes to its budget law, as well as a newly adopted law on access to information, it is now very close to becoming eligible for OGP membership.

President Obama should seize this opportunity to encourage Vietnam to commit to joining OGP and offer U.S. support to help make it happen. The United States already provides technical assistance to Vietnam's Ministry of Finance. It could redouble these efforts, assisting Vietnam in steps it is taking to improve fiscal transparency, consistent with both its revised budget law and OGP requirements. Other assistance could also include fostering a more open debate around the budget, with opportunities for civil society input.

OGP membership would also be a logical complement to the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Improved governance, including more open and responsive budgets, are the best way to help ensure that the gains achieved from economic reforms can have a positive impact on all sections of the population, particularly the most vulnerable. Making the commitment to join OGP would be an important step for Vietnam on its path to building a solid foundation for future prosperity.

Joel Friedman and Duong Thi Viet Anh co-authored this piece.

Vivek Ramkumar is director of International Advocacy & the Open Budget Initiative at the International Budget Partnership, a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., that collaborates with civil society around the world to analyze and influence public budgets in order to reduce poverty and improve the quality of governance.

Joel Friedman is a senior fellow with the IBP’s Open Budget Initiative and the vice president for fiscal policy with the Center on Budget & Policy Priorities, a D.C.-based nongovernmental public policy think tank.

Duong Thi Viet Anh is the managing director of CDI, which is a Vietnamese nongovernmental, nonprofit organization working for the rights of the disadvantaged groups to build a society of equity, solidarity, and sustainable development.


Workshop “New amendments in the State Budget Law 2015 and consultation for drafting the guiding Decree for the State Budget Law 2015”


On 28/03/2016, in Ho Chi Minh city, the Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation Coalition (BTAP) organized the workshop “New amendments in the State Budget Law 2015 and consultation for drafting the guiding Decree for the State Budget Law 2015” to disseminate the new amendments in the State Budget Law 2015 and consult opinions for the drafting of the guiding Decree for implementation.

30 civil society organizations from the provinces in the Middle and the South of Vietnam and the specialists: Mr. Nguyen Minh Tan, Deputy Director of Department of Finance and State Budget, Professor Dang Hung Vo - Former Deputy Director of Minister of Natural Resources and Environment attended the workshop.

In the workshop, 9 suggestions on building the guiding decree for the State budget law were brought up, most of which focus on implementing budget transparency and community oversight. These suggestions will be added on the related recommendations of BTAP to send to the agency in charge of Decree drafting to take into consideration.

The workshop is an event held by BTAP with the fund from EC through Oxfam in the framework of the project “Enhancing budget transparency and people’s participation in managing state budget”.


Enhancing the capacity of BTAP’s core team in Quang Tri


In the framework of the project “Enhancing transparency and people’s participation in managing the state budget”funded by the European Union through Oxfam, the BTAP’s core team in Quang Tri was established with the consultancy of CDI, following the standard criteria and objectives of the project, which are enhancing transparency, accountability and people’s participation in state budget management in local area.

On 01 and 02/03/2016, the training course was held to enhance the capacity of the core team in Quang Tri on the related contents of budget transparency and promote people’s participation in state budget management.


The contest "The participation of people in state budget management" in Quang Tri


On 26 February 2016, within the framework of the project "Promoting transparency and the participation of people in managing the state budget", the contest "The participation of citizens in state budget management" took place at the town hall of the People's Committee of Hai Lang, Quang Tri province. The contest was co-organized by the Women's Union of Quang Tri and the Center for Development and Integration (CDI). 20 teams from 20 communes and towns in Hai Lang district participated in the competition to get more informationa and knowledge about the Law on State Budget 2015 and the role of people's participation in management of the state budget. The representatives of the People's Council of Quang Tri, the Women's Union of Quang Tri, the Center for Development and Integration as well as the representatives of People's Councils, People's Committee and Women's Association of Hai Lang District and the communes came to attend the contest. Numerous local people also came to the contest as spectators cheer on the teams and players.


Policy dialogues between local communities and local authorities for bank credit and health insurance policy in Quang Tri


In the framework of the project “Enhancing transparency and people’s participation in managing the state budget” funded by European Unions through Oxfam, from 22 to 24 February 2016, the Women’s Union of Quang Tri province and Center for Development and Integration held several policy dialogues with the topic “Bank credit and health insurance policy for poor, near-poor and ethic minority women” in Linh Thuong commune (Gio Linh district), Hai Thanh and Hai An commune (Hai Lang district).


Workshop "Publication of the Open Budget Index 2015 and sharing on international and Vietnam’s experiences in promoting budget transparency"

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On 14/01/2016, the workshop "Publication of the Open Budget Index 2015 and sharing on international and Vietnam’s experiences in promoting budget transparency" was held by the Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation Coalition (BTAP) and the International Budget Partnership (IBP) in Hanoi. This was one of the activities in the framework of the project ““Enhancing transparency and people’s participation in managing the state budget”funded by European Union (EC) through Oxfam. The content of the workshop focused on budget transparency implementing issues in Vietnam and sharing about the initiatives and experiences of promoting the budget transparency in Vietnam and around the globe.


Workshop Report on “The implementation of budget transparency, accountability and people’s participation in managing the state budget” survey in Quang Tri province.

hhhhOn December 12th of 2015, in the framework of the project “Promoting transparency and people’s participation in managing the state budget”, the workshop Report on “The implementation of budget transparency, accountability and people’s participation in managing the state budget” survey was held in the Women Union office in Quang Tri with the support of Centre for Development and Integration (CDI). Representatives of Project Management Committee under the People's Council and Provincial Women Union, delegates from 2 departments of Hai Lang and Gio Linh districts with 6 towns and villages and project consultants attended the workshop.


Participation of youth in the event “Budget transparency in youth’s view”

anh1On 12 Dec 2015, at the Youth Cultural House,1B Tang Bat Ho, the event “Budget Transparency in youth’s view”, a part of CSO pride 2015 was held by CDI, CECEM, ISEE and A4F. A chain of exciting activities was organizedto create a useful platform for young people to understand further about National Budget Law as well as to suggest ideas for effective actions in enforcingbudget transparency.

The opening activity was a knowledge game which attracted more than 60 young people to get involved. Besides, in the contest “Youth ideas for Budget Transparency”, young people had a chance to present their own ideas in front of the judge council who have rich experience in governance enforcement and national budget management. They are PhD. Bui Thi An – Congressman, Director of the Institute of Natural Resources, Environment and Community Development, Prof. Dang Hung Vo – Former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Mrs. Nguyen Thu Huong – Senior Program Coordinator of Oxfam and Mr. Hoang Tu Giang – Journalist from Saigon Times newspaper. The special prize was awarded to two young girls from Foreign Trade University with the idea of establishing an alternative organization for enforcing budget transparency process in national budget management.

Moreover, other young people coming to this event had a good chance to participate the workshop with judges in sharing methods of assessing information and enforcing budget transparency. From this workshop, they may have further understanding in budget transparency to build up ideas and contribute to the development of the country.


Budget Transparency, Accountability and Participation (BTAP) Alliance reviewed the first 6 months and set strategy for the next stage

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From 19/10/2015 to 21/10/2015, , the workshop “Review of the first 6 months and strategy building” of BTAP took place in Mai Chau, Hoa Binh with the participation of representatives from the Alliance’s members including CDI, ACDC, Oxfam and CEPEW; delegates from the People’s Committee and Farmers’ Association of Hoa Binh province and the People’s Committee of Quang Tri province. On the first day of the workshop, delegates from Hoa Binh and Quang Tri shared the results of implementing “enhancing transparency and the participation of the citizensin managing the state budget” project in the first 6 months. One of the most remarkable points of this workshop is applying evaluation form to select the mid-term public investment project in Quang Tri. Quang Tri Council of People shared “guideline of selecting mid-term public investment project in Quang Tri in the period of 2016 - 2020”. This document shows the details of criteria, selection process, mid-term public investment project evaluation and notes about applying to the reality. According to the plan, in the comingtime, Hoa Binh will take action in: (1) Consulting on allocation criteria and transparency in the implementation of vocational training programs and (2) Getting the public opinions about the budget allocation criteria of developing social investment to the villages.


Moreover, Hoa Binh and Quang Tri delegates gave straightforward sharings about the problems when implementing the plan such as information exchange and unification among members, the materials were not provided on time and the plan was changed frequently, which led to the passivity of time arrangement. The alliance members listened carefully and took a lesson in the upcoming time.


On the next two days, workshop concentrated on building an action strategy; Operation regulations and principles, operational coordination mechanism as well as the Action Plan of the Alliance for the period 2015-2016. At the end of the workshop, all the members of the alliance committed to build a strong alliance and make it a reliable channel of budget information for the citizensand community.

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