High-ranking officials punished as Ho Chi Minh City prepares for personnel reshuffle

By Thien Ngon   December 3, 2017 | 11:42 am GMT+7
High-ranking officials punished as Ho Chi Minh City prepares for personnel reshuffle
Travelers in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran

The city’s Party chief says a shake-up is needed to make the most of its greater autonomy.

Ho Chi Minh City has punished 15 officials for sub-par performances as it takes steps to clean up its political system and embrace the new power it has been granted as the country’s top economic driver.

The city’s Party unit, its most powerful agency, announced the list of senior members that have received reprimands and warnings for violations that caused losses to the Party on Friday. Vietnam's Party has four levels of punishment, and repeated or serious offenses are subject to demotion or expulsion.

Most prominent on the list was Tran Trung Dung, deputy head of the Party unit’s Organizing Commission, an advisory body mainly tasked with nominating and approving the appointment of officials in the city.

Dung, together with Le Trong Sang, the head of the city’s business innovation board and Huynh Tan Dung and Luong Thi Toi from the city’s labor department were criticized for the method in which they had nominated and appointed officials.

Their poor leadership had allowed their subordinates to commit “serious” financial violations, it said, without specifying further.

Five current and former members of the Party Committee of the Central Business Sector in HCMC and three key members of the Ministry of Construciton’s Party unit in the city were also punished for improper use of funds and assets.

In District 7, where a new urban area has been rising in recent years, a group of officials were criticized for poor land and construction management, and failing to stop illegal encroachment at two major projects that caused public anger.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, the city’s Party Secretary, addressed the decision at a meeting on Saturday, saying it was a “painful but fair” thing to do.

Nhan said the city will continue its restructing efforts to become more effective and make the most of the new privileges it has been granted.

Vietnamese legislators last month agreed to give Ho Chi Minh City, the country’s economic center, more autonomy to boost its development.

The decision will allow the city to make its own decisions on areas such as land management, investment and public spending from mid-January for at least five years.

The city will be able to raise special consumption and environmental protection taxes on certain products, though it will still have to consult the central government. It will also be able to set special salaries for industry experts and scientists, and raise salaries in the public sector as it sees fit.

Nhan said that the new power also means new challenges and demands.

The city will carry out a series of "personnel reshuffles in certain offices" by the end of the year to make sure it is ready for the bigger role, he said.

Ho Chi Minh City is among just 20 percent of cities and provinces in Vietnam that can cover their own expenditures and contribute to the national coffers. It was the country's largest moneymaker last year, earning more than VND306 trillion ($13.48 billion), up 12 percent from 2015. It also accounted for 28 percent of all state budget contributions, according to its finance department.