Sweden has supported economic reforms in Vietnam since early the 1990’s. During the last strategy period, 1999-2003, support to two projects on higher education within the field of economics has been completed. The bilateral project on development of economics statistics have entered into its third and final phase and the project on support to tax reform have also been completed. The support to economic policy research has been redesigned into a joint co-operation between several Vietnamese organisations.
Setting up good public finance management system in Vietnam is essential to achieve a lasting reduction in poverty. The Swedish support has responded to the need of building government institutions capable of mobilising, handling, tracking and applying funds efficiently. During the strategy period Swedish support has stressed the importance of good governance and transparency to effective financial management, emphasising the need to nurture and enhancing the skills of public officials working in this area.
The common result of the Swedish support to economic reforms is that it has brought important public finance management systems more in line with international standards and practices. Focus has been put on taxation, statistics and education of economists.
Sweden has supported the tax reform since its start. According to Vietnam a majority of basic and major structures of the reform until now, emanate from the co-operation with Sweden.
A sound foundation for the national statistical system has been established. The Swedish support, which has been the only long-term institutional development assistance, has played a significant role in this development.
With support of the Swedish supported projects at the National Economics University (NEU), 84 people received MBA degrees and 56 received MSc in financial economics. Among these graduates, 72 people were from the NEU. In organisational terms the support resulted in the establishment of the Business School at NEU. More importantly, the two projects benchmarked the significant transition of the higher education in economics in Vietnam. For the first time, Western academic programs, in economics and business, were taught fully in Vietnam by Western faculties.
Most of the “first generation” Swedish bilateral support to economic reforms has already or will soon be phased out. With the larger number of involved donors it is possible to co-finance Government owned initiatives and together with likeminded bilateral donors ensure that blueprint solutions are avoided. The support to economic policy research development however represents a unique cooperation between Vietnamese institutions with direct influence on policy-making and should be given continued bilateral support.