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Parliarment members suggest provincial mergers to cut civil servant numbers

Thousands line up to apply for positions at tax agencies in Hanoi. 57,175 public workers on the payroll are actually not needed.
Thousands line up to apply for positions at tax agencies in Hanoi. 57,175 public workers on the payroll are actually not needed.

National Assembly deputies Friday proposed more mergers of provinces and cities to reduce the number of civil servants.
During a National Asembly (NA) discussion on national socioeconomic development, Ta Van Ha, NA deputy from the southern province of Bac Lieu, said that the process of reducing redundant government positions was very slow.

Tax payers cannot bear the brunt of 60 percent of the budget being taken up by government spending, leaving very little for investment and development, Ha said.

The number of civil servants who are not very capable and have low moral standards is still high, he said.

So, just as Hanoi did a decade ago, the government should consider merging some provinces and cities, Ha said.

In May 2008, over 92 percent of National Assembly deputies voted in favor of expanding Hanoi by merging neighboring Ha Tay province to west, a part of the Vinh Phuc province to the north and a part of the Hoa Binh province in the south-west into the capital city.

The merger tripled Hanoi’s area to 3,300 square kilometers (815,447 acres) and increased its population by 80 percent to 6.2 million at that time.

“This merger has allowed Hanoi to witness large-scale developments and register great achievements,” Ha said, adding that such mergers were the most effective solution for reducing redundant government positions.

Pham Xuan Thang, a deputy from Hai Duong Province in the north, also said more changes should be effected in reducing the number of government employees. Government positions with similar tasks should be merged, he said.

In August, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc approved a plan to reduce the number of civil servants by 5,510 (2 percent of the current staff strength of 265,100) to 259,590 next year.

The size of Vietnam’s public sector compared to the population is among the biggest in Southeast Asia, according to the World Bank.

Government auditors from the State Audit Office of Vietnam in January said that 57,175 public workers on the payroll are actually not needed.

Data from the General Statistics Office show that at the end of last year there were more than 5.2 million people working in the public sector.