Procrastination – a national malaise 

Published: 11/07/2011 05:00


A customer uses an automated teller machine (ATM) in Ho Chi Minh City.

It can be said without exaggeration that delaying deadlines has become a chronic disease in Vietnam, especially at the administrative level.

Whether it is an important thing like a new regulation or something less so like a new academic program, everything can be put off here.

The practice is so common that most new regulations are not taken seriously by Vietnamese citizens, who are confident that the agencies concerned will delay them for various reasons, justified and otherwise.

The newest example is the State Bank of Vietnam’s delay in asking automated teller machine (ATM) card holders to change their bank identification numbers (BINs) to bring it in line with international practices.

Aimed at making a common payment system for all ATM card issuers, the central bank had launched the regulation three years ago and set June 30 this year as the deadline for compliance.

However, because many card holders have not bothered to change it as asked, the state bank last announced that it would extend the deadline until December 31 next year, as proposed by local banks.

Some people have said it doesn’t matter whether the regulation is delayed for a year or a year-and-a-half, because the only consequence is that the banks would not come up with a common system to make their operations easier. And, the banks have waited for three years already, so another delay should not be a big problem.

Earlier this month, the government postponed by another two years its decision to fine buses and trucks that fail to carry black boxes – devices that record their journey. The original deadline was this July 1.

Although the latest decree still requires buses and trucks that frequently travel more than 500 kilometers to follow the regulation by the set deadline, many transportation companies have breathed a sigh of relief.

They can “legally violate” regulations on licensing transport businesses which stated installing black boxes as one of the requirements until 2013.

And who knows, the government then could delay it for another couple of years. Many regulations in Vietnam have been delayed several times already.

For example, all container truck drivers currently holding class C, D, and E licenses were to upgrade to FC class by July 1 this year. The regulation was first scheduled to take effect July 1, 2009, but delayed for one year as many drivers hadn’t upgraded their licenses for various reasons like the fear that driving courses would take time off their working schedules.

Then, as the deadline approached last year, both drivers and transport companies kept complaining about the troubles they were facing, because many drivers hadn’t acquired the upgrades yet.

Now yet another deadline is approaching, and it seems that many drivers are waiting for another delay.

Everything is subject to delay in an uncertain world, yes, but a regulation or a policy that has been carefully planned after consulting with several agencies and experts needs to be applied on time.

To postpone it should be a valid last resort, not a way of life. If the latter approach prevails, people will develop the habit of procrastination. Moreover, there is the very real danger that constant delays in applying policies and regulations will result in policy makers and enforcers not taken seriously, and end up looking unprofessional and unreliable.

By Nguyen Hang

Provide by Vietnam Travel

Procrastination – a national malaise  - Business - News |  vietnam travel company

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