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Poor outcome predictable
The Saigon Times Daily
Sunday,  Jul 8, 2018,15:07 (GMT+7)

Poor outcome predictable

The Saigon Times Daily

The ambition was high when HCMC authorities in 2015 mapped out seven breakthrough programs for the 2016-2020 period, and now half the period down the road, no breakthroughs have been seen. The poor outcome is anticipated, not because it is admitted by the city leaders now, but rather because the targets are too high to reach while resources are limited.

In the previous tenure, the city’s Party Committee made a strong commitment to execute the seven breakthrough programs. These programs focus on human resource improvement, administrative reform, improvement of growth quality and competitiveness, reduction of traffic congestion and accidents, flood control and response to climate change, environmental protection, and urban rehabilitation and development.

Such programs were chosen to address striking issues faced by the city so as to create strong momentum and a solid foundation for sustainable, fast growth. Called breakthroughs – by definition referring to sharp turnarounds or dramatic changes – but the progress so far has been modest.

Reviewing the execution of such programs at a meeting of the city’s Party Committee last week, top leaders of the city hinted at the unattainable targets. Nguyen Thanh Phong, chairman of the municipal government, pondered how the execution of such programs has brought about any breakthrough, and whether such programs have contributed to the growth quality of the city. He bluntly concluded: “I have not seen any breakthroughs.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of the HCMC Party Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said unless drastic changes are introduced, the programs will not pay off. He also suggested that each of such programs should be consigned to the city chairman or a vice chairman so that the city leaders can closely supervise their implementation and have prompt instructions.

However, it is the inclusion of so many issues into the breakthrough programs as well as the high ambition not proportionate to available resources that make the targets beyond reach. Take two pressing issues of traffic congestion and flooding for example, it is widely believed that at best, such problems can only be radically addressed in a matter of decades, and breakthroughs are impossible, let alone within just five years. In fact, at the city’s Party meeting mentioned early on, the Department of Transport admitted that the city budget cannot afford site clearance and construction costs for traffic projects. Only 14% out of the total sum of VND177 trillion needed for such projects has been secured.

Only two and a half years is left for the breakthrough programs, and given the huge workload ahead, a poor outcome is predictable. Perhaps another more measured approach should be more preferable, under which the city leadership should choose only one breakthrough program to implement to create knock-on effects on the city’s socioeconomic landscape. Other pressing issues, as a matter of course, must also be tackled, but instead of devising breakthrough programs for such issues, annual action programs will be more reasonable to incrementally build up results. By doing so, resources will not be thinly distributed, and the targeted outcome can be better handled.

The Saigon Times Daily

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