Gov't agrees to give HCMC more autonomy

By Lan Ha   September 6, 2017 | 08:49 pm PT
Gov't agrees to give HCMC more autonomy
Skyscrapers across the Saigon River. Photo by VnExpress/Phong Vinh
The city will have authority over 'certain matters' which are currently controlled by ministries and other central government units.

Vietnam’s prime minister has agreed with a proposal to increase Ho Chi Minh's decision-making powers to help the country’s largest metropolis develop to its full potential.

Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said at a meeting with city leaders on Wednesday that he agreed to the establishment of “exclusive policies” for the city, giving it authority over certain matters that are currently under the jurisdiction of ministries or central government units.

Deputy PM Vuong Dinh Hue said that the city has a lot of growth potential, but is struggling with strained infrastructure, flooding and environmental pollution.

“There must be special policies for the city or its growth will slow,” he said.

The meeting was held more than three months after HCMC’s Party chief Nguyen Thien Nhan shared plans to ask the country’s legislators to sign off on special policies to “increase the city’s control and responsibility” over its own affairs.

He said the city will make a more effective contribution to the country if it can be more active.

Nhan, a member of the Politburo, which is the Vietnam Communist Party's decision-making body, took his post in HCMC in May after Dinh La Thang was removed amid an investigation into “serious violations” during his time as chairman of the state-owned energy giant PetroVietnam several years ago.

During his tenure, Thang also called for more independence for the southern city.

Last October, he strongly objected to the government’s request for HCMC to contribute more money to the state budget and keep just 17 percent of its annual income, a big drop from the 23 percent that it currently retains.

Later, he asked for that level to be raised to 33 percent, but a new rule now states that the legislative National Assembly will decide the rate every five years.

The megacity of 13 million people is among 20 percent of cities and provinces in Vietnam that can cover their own expenditures and contribute to the national coffers. It was again the country’s largest moneymaker last year by earning more than VND306 trillion ($13.48 billion), up 12 percent from 2015, according to its finance department.

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