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Vietnam Ministry of Finance Proposes Public Debt Clocks in 3 Major Cities

In the interest of government transparency, Vietnam’s Ministry of Finance is proposing the construction of public debt clocks in Hanoi, Saigon and Da Nang.

Do Duc Hong Ha, a National Assembly representative from Hanoi, told VietnamNet he plans to bring up the proposal at the Assembly’s next working session.

“Not only [the] MoF, but [the] National Assembly and voters want to know the real situation of the state budget,” he told the news outlet.

Proponents of the debt clock plan believe that, if approved, the move would publicize both local and national budget information, bringing greater transparency to government spending.

However, some are hesitant to back the idea completely. Economist Bui Quang Tin supports the proposal but also views this as just the first step. Tin worries that officials at both the local and national levels could alter the numbers without the public ever knowing, reports the news outlet.

State budget information is currently not released to the general public. According to Tin, it can often be difficult to track down and is not regularly updated.

“I have to use statistics from foreign sources for my research,” he told VietnamNet.

This proposal is particularly relevant now, as Vietnam’s deficit threatens to exceed the governmental cap – 65% of the nation’s GDP – by the end of the year. Back in July, VietnamNet reported the country’s debt was inching ever closer to this threshold. Between 2010 and 2014, government debt roughly doubled, according to the news source. Today, according to The Economist’s Global Debt Clock, Vietnam’s public debt tops US$94.8 billion, or an average of US$1,039 per person.

Beyond the construction of the debt clocks, officials have also debated their location. Assemblyman Ha wants to see Hanoi’s debt clock at the National Assembly building, for instance, while economist Le Dang Doanh believes it should be located near Hoan Kiem Lake in order to make the clock visible to more people.

[Photo via LA Times]

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