The newly appointed Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc talks on the priorities in his new role, including developing strong national financial capacity.
Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh on April 8 presents the Vietnamese President's official decision on the appointment of Ho Duc Phoc (right) as the new Minister of Finance. — VNA/VNS Photo Thong Nhat
Could you share with us your feelings after becoming finance minister?
Five years ago, I was honoured to be named the State Auditor General. After a successful tenure, now I am entrusted with the role of Minister of Finance, a multidisciplinary State agency that holds a critical role in managing the national financial resources, promoting the country's socio-economic development, and one that is under close scrutiny from both the people and the business community.
It is obviously a great honour, but it is also onerous responsibility.
As a full-time financial specialist, maturing from local level, having experience in many fields of work, I have been directly involved in the management and administration of the state budget, corporate finance, and Party building.
In particular, over the past five years, in my capacity of the State Auditor General, the auditing of the management and use of public finance and public assets has helped me gain more knowledge and experience in economy and macro-finance. I consider this a great advantage for me when taking on this new role.
However, I am determined to constantly try to study and improve myself in this new position, and work in unison with the leaders of the ministry and all civil servants, public employees, and workers in the whole financial sector to implement the directions and leadership of the Party and State consistently and effectively.
At the same time, we would proactively coordinate with other ministries, sectors, authorities at all levels, localities, the business community, and businesses to successfully complete the assigned tasks, effectively contributing to nation building and development.
2021 is the first year implementing the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, objectives for 2021-25, and financial strategy for the next five and 10 years. What are the challenges facing the financial sector during this period?
The COVID-19 pandemic still poses serious challenges for the world and our country, while economic and trade competitions continue to intensify.
In Vietnam, the pandemic hindered business’ efforts to expand trade markets and relations, while many aspects of the economy – labour productivity, quality, effectiveness and competitiveness – remain quite limited. There are also significant constraints in terms of financial resources’ room for growth and fiscal policies to help the economy achieve the growth targets.
In fact, the management of collection and use of State budget and public assets is sometimes ineffective, while waste of public investment is still taking place. Those factors will directly affect the implementation of the immediate and long-term financial and State budget tasks.
2021 is the first year of implementing the financial and State budget plan for the next five years and 10 years. The financial sector, standing on the achievements of recent times, will continue to offer consultation to the Government on formulating appropriate policies and mechanisms for the future, especially focussing on building and developing strong national financial capacity, effectively contributing to the country's development and reforms.
Over the past 75 years of establishment and development, Vietnam’s financial sector has always been making strong breakthroughs to strengthen the country's financial capacity.
The first challenge is to ensure fiscal policy, balance between revenues and expenditure, reduce public debt and budget deficit, along with figuring out the optimal way of management and administration of the national budget and resources, promoting the economic development of the country, promoting the growth of enterprises and improving people’s lives, building a solid defence and security base. With a strong cadre of responsible and professional civil servants, I believe that the financial sector, and myself also, would be able to complete the assigned tasks.
What will be your priorities in the new role?
This five-year term is a ‘backbone period’ in the country’s development strategy towards 2030, with a vision to 2045.
Therefore, the formulation and management of the financial and State budget plan must be active and cautious at the same time, contributing to the successful implementation of the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress and stabilisation of the macro-economy, which would lead to economic growth, room to address social problems, security and national defence, better position in international integration, and national financial security.
The restructuring of State budget will also be a priority to improve effectiveness and efficiency, which would include efforts to ‘nurture’ the potential revenue sources, prevent revenue loss, prevent transfer pricing and tax avoidance, ensure efficient expenditure of State budget. There will also be efforts to improve fiscal policies and the national financial resiliency, in line with the development level and international integration level of the country.
Another important task in the future is to continue maintaining strict budget and financial discipline; openness, transparency, accountability; along with pursuing robust reforms and resolution of bottleneck policies that hinder economic development.
This would require further reforms of financial mechanisms for public non-business units, restructuring of State-owned enterprises; restructuring the financial market, insurance, accounting and auditing services, etc.
The finance ministry is a multidisciplinary State agency whose works directly impact people and businesses, so financial policies must serve the development of the country, the needs of the people and the growth of the businesses, putting businesses at the centre of these policies.
In particular, the ministry will also focus on mobilising resources from the public/society, through the promotion of financial, stock and insurance markets, in a way that is consistent with Socialist-oriented market mechanism, which would help build a strong and firm national financial system that conforms with international norms, which in turn, help elevate Vietnam’s economy on the international stage.
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