HCMC can save $51 mln a year without lower-level legislative bodies

By Huu Cong   November 2, 2020 | 11:00 pm PT
HCMC can save $51 mln a year without lower-level legislative bodies
A view of HCMC as seen from District 2, September 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran.
Removing legislative agencies of inner city wards and districts can save HCMC VND1.2 trillion ($51.75 million) every year, a former city official says.

Doing away with people's councils in wards and districts would serve the purpose of streamlining the city’s governance apparatus, says Truong Van Lam, former director of the municipal home affairs department.

"For such a city with big population and economic scale as HCMC, decisions made by the urban administration should be passed down to grassroots level units as fast and accurately as possible instead of going through too many intermediary levels," Lam told VnExpress in an interview.

The plan to remodel HCMC’s urban administration will only keep the councils for suburban districts and remove them for wards and districts in the inner-city areas.

HCMC currently houses 13 million people, including migrants, in an area of over 2,000 square kilometers.

The city has been the country’s growth engine for decades, with its contribution to the national budget rising from 26.5 percent per year in the 2001-2010 decade to 27.5 percent in the following one (2011-2019). HCMC is also the nation’s largest industrial and service center, accounting for 15 percent and 33 percent of national growth, respectively.

According to the plan that has been tabled for discussion at the ongoing National Assembly session, the removal will allow HCMC to cut 316 personnel and save almost VND1.2 trillion each year. This sum comprises the salaries paid for staff and other costs to run the People’s Councils for urban wards and districts in a year, said Lam, who retired in August. For several years, he was part of the team planning the remodelling of HCMC’s urban administration.

"The city has a placement plan for the personnel laid off, but it would be impossible to arrange jobs for all of them. Some people will have to leave the apparatus. This was a matter of considerable concern for the team, but we have to do it for a greater cause," he said.

Step by step, HCMC is applying information technology in its administration and building itself into a smart city, and if this is done well, residents can easily give feedback and submit their questions directly to the administration without having to go through the councils, he added.

Most NA deputies had said at a meeting last month they agree on directly implementing the plan to remodel HCMC’s urban administration towards meeting its special needs. There was consensus that a pilot phase was not needed for the task.

Hoang Thanh Tung, Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Legal Affairs, said the southern metropolis "was a special city, a big center for economy, culture, education, science and technology."

As the economic locomotive for the entire country that operates in harmony with the southern key economic region, it was necessary to study and form a model of urban administration for its particular characteristics, he said at a meeting held to present the committee’s assessment of a draft resolution on the issue.

The city currently has 24 districts, including five suburban ones, and 332 wards.

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