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Monday, 26 October 2020 08:41
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Da Nang actively builds modern municipal government

(LLCT) - Carrying on the process of amending, supplementing and improving institutional organization to build a municipal government in the direction of clarifying the organizational structures of municipal, rural, island, and special administrative-economic unit governments, along with proactively piloting in eligible areas, are emphasized contents in the 12th Party Congress’s Resolution. From local practices, Da Nang is actively researching and building a modern municipal government to meet the needs of state development and management in the City.

Keyword:  Municipal government, Da Nang City.

1. Development practices and the need for renovating the urban government organizational model

Da Nang is a first-class municipality in Vietnam. There are 8 districts and 56 wards and communes in Da Nang City. The total population of Da Nang is 1,134,310 (as of April 1, 2019), of which the urban population is nearly 990 thousand people (87.3%). After 15 years of implementing Resolution No.33-NQ/TW of the 9th Politburo on building and developing Da Nang in the period of industrialization and modernization, there has been strong development in Da Nang towards becoming a dynamic and innovative city capable of utilizing its potential and advantages. The city’s economic growth rate is relatively high. The gross regional domestic product (GRDP) increases by 9.8% per year on average; the GRDP per capita has increased 6.6 times compared to 2003. Meanwhile, the economic structure experiences positive transformation. Sectors such as trade, information and communication, transportation, logistics, finance, banking, education - training, and health care are all developing at a high speed; Da Nang’s tourism sector ranks the first in the country in terms of proportion and growth, becoming a key economic sector with a brand name and international competitiveness. The industrial sector maintains a moderate growth rate, with high-tech and information technology as the main focus. Besides, the agricultural sector develops sustainably with the utilization of high-tech and environment-friendly technologies. The potential and strength of the marine economy are increasingly promoted. Socio-economic infrastructure and urban appearance change rapidly and are relatively modern. The city maintains its top position in the Provincial competitiveness index(1), Administrative reform index(2), Governance and public services efficiency, and Information technology development and application(3); the Human development index has improved. In 2019, the total regional budget was estimated at 28,170 billion VND, which was 102.9% of the plan, up 3.5% over the same period. The average income per capita in 2019 was estimated at 95.7 million VND, equivalent to 4,095 USD, which was 7 times higher than in 2003 and 1.45 times higher than the whole country, as well as 1.42 times higher than the Central key economic region. Tourism is still a potential sector with the total number estimated at 8.69 million people, an increase of 13.4%. Capital investment in the City increased significantly, with nearly 8,830 billion VND of domestic investment and 668.1 million USD of foreign investment; newly registered investments of 123 FDI projects with a total registered capital of 437.5 million USD, an increase of 8 times compared to 2018 (there were 113 projects and a total registered capital of 55.8 million USD in 2018).

Despite these achievements, Da Nang still has limitations and shortcomings. In the management structure, obstacles are affecting the effectiveness and efficiency of management, especially problems arising from the uncoordinated cooperation between departmental and territorial management and the overlap between career management and State management. Economic and social infrastructure is not commensurate with the development of society between regions and localities due to the shortage of synchronization and articulation between urban areas. Management of urban planning is limited; urban planning and development has not kept pace with urbanization. It can be said that the current management model of Da Nang does not meet the requirements and lacks flexibility, autonomy and self-responsibility in dealing with the issue in the government model of urban districts, wards and rural areas that are urbanized (i.e. rural districts and communes). It is also not consistent with the characteristics and nature of urban management. Several current regulations on the organization and operation of People’s Councils in urban districts, rural districts, and communes do not match the characteristics and properties of the administrative units in a municipality. The ability and responsibilities of People’s Council deputies as well as officials and public employees at the intermediate and grassroots level are insufficient. To overcome the above limitations and irrationalities, and to maximize the resources for socio-economic and urban development, it is needed to propose research and pilot models of a municipal government for Da Nang. This is consistent with the need for gradual improvement in the effectiveness and efficiency of State management and administration capacity in Da Nang’s municipal government following the conditions of socio-economic development that suit the needs of the people.

From 2008 to 2016, Da Nang was one of ten provinces selected by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly as a pilot for not holding People’s Council in 07 districts and 45 wards. In the 2016-2021 term, the Da Nang municipal government model is being reorganized under the 2015 Local Government Law.

The Resolution No. 43-NQ/TW dated January 24, 2019 of the Politburo on “Development of Da Nang by 2030 with a vision towards 2045” defines the following objectives: Building Da Nang to become one of the major socio-economic centers of Vietnam and Southeast Asia, an international seaport city acting as the center of urban chains, the key economy of the Central Coast and Central Highlands region, an ecological, modern and smart city, a living city with a strong political system, a city that has a government pioneering in innovation and development, people with a leading national standard of living with a high quality of life, friendliness, happiness and innovation; national defense, security, and sovereignty of the sea and islands are firmly guaranteed. To realize these goals, the Politburo has allowed the City to experiment with guidelines and schemes, including a pilot project of a municipal government model that is suitable with the City’s development requirements and regulations.

On October 29, 2019, the Government issued Resolution No. 93/NQ-CP to approve the proposal putting up the National Assembly’s Resolution on the “Development of Da Nang by 2030, with a vision towards 2045”, including the pilot municipal government, the City development mechanisms, and policies. After reaching an agreement on the policies of the ministries and departments, the Standing Committee of the Municipal Party Committee issued a decision to set up a Steering Committee to build a pilot project of a municipal government model.

The project objective is to propose an organizational model of a municipal government in districts, wards and communes, ensuring lean structure with improved effectiveness and efficiency of management and improved the quality and efficiency of public service in the City following the characteristics and features of urban and rural areas under urbanization. It is needed to promote decentralization from the Center (Government, Ministries, and Central Departments) to cities, districts, wards, and communes to improve the autonomy and self-responsibility of governments at all levels and to promote potential and resources for sustainable socio-economic development, forming a modern and civilized city. Renewing the management mechanism and mode of administrations at all levels is another goal, as is building an electronic government, smart cities, and managing urban centers in a unified and centralized manner. Improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the political system, maintaining the leading role of the Party Committee, promoting the role and responsibilities of the Fatherland Front as well as other socio-political organizations,and promoting various forms of direct democracy contributing to construct a solid political system are also important.

2. The future municipal government of Da Nang

Da Nang proposed two options for the local organizational structure at all levels of the City. Option 1: The Municipal Government consists of the People’s Council and the People’s Committee and the local government in the districts, wards, and communes consist of the People’s Committee (one level of the Municipal government and two levels of local government); Option 2: The City, urban districts, rural districts, and communes that are controlled by the City have the People’s Council and People’s Committee, while the government in the wards controlled by urban districts have only the Ward People’s Committee.

Based on the analysis of advantages and limitations of each option, the draft proposal proposes to select Option 1 based on the following reasons: First of all, Da Nang had piloted a local government model of only People’s Committees (without the People’s Councils) in several districts and wards in the period from 2009-2016 with positive results(4); government activities at all levels were stable and smooth, and citizens and businesses were satisfied with the government in providing public services(5). During the pilot period of not implementing People’s Council, the People’s Committees at all levels took the initiative, formulated, and promulgated a number of solutions to ensure the stability of socio-economic development. The People’s Committees of districts and wards operated substantially and the citizen’s ownership right was maintained. Da Nang has been the leader among localities having a high score in indexes such as provincial competitiveness index, the information technology application index, the public administration governance index, and the administrative reform index. The direction and administration work of the higher-level People’s Committee to the local levels was more transparent and specific, ensuring the direct administration, enhancing the autonomy of the administrative agencies and the responsibility of managing officials. That was the outstanding advantage of this model. Second, Da Nang has only one rural district, Hoa Vang (besides the Hoang Sa (Paracel) island district administrative unit), which has been in the process of urbanization at a fast pace. Currently, the Municipal government is responsible for most of the overall development planning and management decisions of the City. Therefore, district authorities mainly implement the decisions of their superiors, along with assigning tasks and guiding commune authorities. Duties and powers of district governments have changed and narrowed to the scope of making decisions for its own local socio-economic issues. Third, Da Nang has only 11 communes (belonging to Hoa Vang district) and all are recognized as new rural communes. These localities are undergoing a rapid urbanization process. The boundaries between communes and wards are being eliminated, and many communes are in the planning of urban areas, hi-tech parks, and industrial parks. Among those 11 communes, the 5 communes Hoa Chau, Haa Tien, Hoa Phuoc, Hoa Phong and Hoa Lien have achieved high levels of urbanization and meet the criteria for being classified as type V urban areas in accordance with the Standing Committee of the National Assembly’s Resolution 1210/2016/UBTVQH13 dated May 25, 2016 on urban classification. Hence, to synchronize and unify in the overall management method of Da Nang, the communes proposed to apply the same model as the wards. Fourth, Option 1 is consistent with the characteristics and nature of urban management in a small-scale area with widely developed urban infrastructure, transportation, information and communication technology as in Da Nang city, creating favorable conditions to improve the transparency, effectiveness and efficiency in state management and provision of public services in urban areas. Fifth, on the legal basis, the National Assembly approved the proposal to amend and supplement the 2015 Law on Organization of Local Government witharticles about organizational structure of local government. In particular, an amendment and supplement to Clause 1, Article 4 is as follows: Local governments are organized in administrative units of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam that are suitable to the characteristics of rural areas, urban areas, islands, and special administrative-economic units; Amendment and supplement Articles 44 and 58 says Local governments in urban districts and wards are the local government level consisting of the People’s Council and People’s Committee of districts and wards, except for specific cases that are not considered local governments by the National Assembly to create a legal basis for the National Assembly to allow the pilot of new models when eligible.

3. Predicting the impact of a new municipal government model

- Regarding the organizational structure of the city government: The municipal government in Da Nang City will have an efficient apparatus, that operates fast, fluently, and proactively in deciding important issues at the local level. The specialized departments are restructured in an effective and streamlined manner, promoting the decentralization between central agencies and the city government, thereby improving the autonomy and self-responsibility of the local government. Specifically, if Option 1 is applied (include 1 level of city government and 2 levels of local governments in districts, wards and communes), it will reduce the budget expenditure for the activities of People’s Councils of districts, wards and communes by around 43,703 million VND/year due to the reduction of 250 representatives at the district level and 1,550 representatives atthe ward and commune levels.

- Regarding the public personnel: The reorganization of municipal administrations by merging or dissolving organizations willcause officials to transfer their jobs or be redundant, directly affecting the interests and regimes of these officials and public employees. Therefore, the City must deploy appropriate measures to solve the arising problems for officials. On the other hand, with the new model and operating mechanisms that focus and unify, as well as clearly define the competence and accountability, public officials must then renovate their thinking, behaviors, and working methods in order to master the Party’s guidelines and policies and understand the laws, along with the trend of development and integration, and be qualified to meet the requirements of the City development process.

- Regarding the economy: Besides saving the budget from the activities of the People’s Council and the allowance of the People’s Council representatives in the districts, wards and communes, it is also able to mobilize more and more and effectively utilize financial resources for development through the implementation of new decentralized mechanisms and policies for the City government.

- Regarding society: The city government will be more proactive in managing and exploiting technical and social infrastructures, creating more jobs, providing public services with increasing quality to the people, establishing a cultural and civilized lifestyle, and suppressing and effectively preventing social crimes. The government will also work on building a municipal government model to enhance autonomy, maximizing the mobilization of resources for sustainable development, and promoting the formation of a civilized and modern city. Building a smart city associated with the urban government is an important solution to ensure the right to supervise and enforce of people’s direct democratic rights through electronic information systems. Additionally, the smart citizen construction will allow new channels of interaction between citizens and government representatives, enabling people to send feedback directly to the representatives without holding direct public meetings. Urban government associated with building smart cities will provide better administrative procedures and public services to the people. At the same time, without People’s Councils in districts, wards and communes, the role of People’s Committees at all levels will increase by taking on a number of previous tasks belonging to People’s Councils at all levels. The formation of the e-government with a large database will allow governments at all levels to collect information quickly, serving the local administration and management process.With the development of smart economy, life and environment, the City’s citizen will be served with the best public services such as healthcare, education, security, and environment. This is a prominent feature when all aspects of people’s lives are digitized, the provision of services is forecasted, analyzed, and conducted in accordance with the specific needs of the people.

- Regarding the international relations: The establishment of a new model and management mechanism enables the City to proactively expand cooperation with regional and global urban areas to promote the development of the economy, investment, culture, education, healthcare, etc. as well as to enhance the City’s capacity for organizing international events.

- Regarding the legislation: The implementation of changing the model of the municipal government creates differences from the provisions of current legal documents. Since then, coordination is required among central agencies (the National Assembly, the Government, ministries, and departments) in amending, supplementing, and issuing new legal documents on the organization and operation of local and municipal governments, creating an appropriate legal corridor for the effective operation of municipal governments.

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Endnotes:

(1), (2) From 2010 to 2018, the City ranked 1st place 5 times in 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, ranked 2nd in 2017, and 5th place in 2011 and 2018.

(3) Since 2010, the City has consecutively led the readiness index for the information technology development and application in Vietnam.

(4) According to a sociological survey, 84% of the respondents agreed not to hold People’s Councils at urban districts, rural districts and wards; 68.8% of the respondents agreed that the pilot implementation does not affect the guarantee of the people’s representation and ownership rights because there are still other monitoring channels.

(5) Satisfaction rate surveyed by the government agencies and units surveyed is high every year, over 80% to 98% satisfaction.

Assoc. Prof., Dr. Le Van Dinh

Department of Politics and International Relations,

Academy of Politics Region III

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