|Project Rationale and Linkage to Country/Regional Strategy
In Viet Nam, the coordination of RCI initiatives is particularly complex because of the large number of RCI initiatives it is involved in and different dimensions of coordination required for each of them. There is no single agency supervising all RCI initiatives, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) are mandated to serve as the national focal points for different RCI initiatives. Between MPI and MOFA, RCI coordination is fragmented. There is no formal and functioning mechanism that looks at the totality of Viet Nam's participation across these initiatives, sets a strategic direction to effectively position Viet Nam in different regional groupings, and determines national priorities across the initiatives to avoid overlaps. Also, no standard operational procedures are in place for RCI coordination. MPI is the lead agency to coordinate the planning of public investments including those for RCI activities. However, absence of an effective coordination mechanism, and lack of staff capacity and knowledge required for planning RCI activities at the national and sub-national levels weaken investment efficiency.
A solid coordination mechanism between the central and provincial authorities also does not exist. Central ministries provide budget and directives to their respective provincial units who will then report on the progress of their tasks to the central ministries. The provincial people's committees, and units associated with other central ministries, may not always be involved in this decision-making and reporting process although informed on key activities. This mechanism does not encourage active interaction between local authorities and provincial units of central ministries, running the risk of isolating policy decisions from the reality on the ground. Inadequate RCI coordination within the government also affects the efficiency of Viet Nam's national coordinator/focal point for each of the RCI initiatives and their working relationships with their Secretariats such as ASEAN Secretariat based in Jakarta, Indonesia, and GMS Secretariat in ADB Headquarters in Manila, the Philippines.
Staff involved in planning RCI activities generally lack skills and knowledge critical for their responsibilities, i.e., skills for general public investment planning and specific knowledge of planning RCI activities. Limited capacity is particularly evident at the provincial level. Apart from the mismatch of skills and work requirements, provincial staff's awareness of global, regional and national development issues as well as the benefit of RCI is generally low. Poor coordination and information dissemination from the central to provincial agencies largely contribute to the weaknesses of human resource capacity at the provincial level. This has been depriving provincial staff from participating effectively in planning RCI activities.
The absence of an effective coordination mechanism and the lack of staff skills and knowledge for planning RCI activities limit the possibility of seeking complementarity and synergy between and among RCI programs and projects, affecting the achievement of their intended results and substantial development impact. If Viet Nam is to successfully be integrated into the ASEAN Economic Community to be realized by 2015, and implement the GMS new Strategic Framework (SF) 2012-2022 , it is essential for Viet Nam to improve the efficiency of RCI coordination and investment planning, particularly given the country's significant demand for infrastructure improvement and social services.