Regulations on transparency in merit and donated money do not hinder religious and belief activities


Ms Vu Thi Hai Yen, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Expenditure.
Ms Vu Thi Hai Yen, Deputy Director of the Department of Public Expenditure.

What does it mean to have a document to cover the management of merit and donated money for transparency in this field without hindering religious activities?

According to statistics from the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, the country now has nearly 9,000 festivals, including about 7,000 traditional folk festivals, 1,400 religious festivals, more than 400 revolutionary history festivals and nearly 30 imported abroad festivals.

In addition, Vietnam has over 10,000 provincial-level relics, nearly 4,000 national relics, 123 special national relics and over 40,000 relics listed according to the Law on Cultural Heritage provisions. However, there was no legal document on the management of revenue and expenditure for this field but the guiding documents for the implementation, so sanctions for handling violations were ineffective.

The reception, management and use of merit and donated money for relics and festival activities have been a problem, which has tended to be commercialized and abused for economic purposes; and raised disputes among units, especially national historical relics and special national relic sites, including religious institutions, affecting the good values of beliefs and religions.

The management of monuments and the organization of festivals in the new situation is governed by many different factors, including the market economy, which requires transparency in material rights and the elimination of the tendency to pursue personal and group interests.

People are interested in contributing to festival activities and protecting and promoting the value of relics. We are living in the age of a digital society, a digital economy; besides contributions in case, a bank transfer is more popular. This is people’s behaviour and habit of merit and also does not hinder belief and religious activities. Therefore, we think it is necessary to issue this Circular to create a legal corridor to facilitate people and organizations to contribute to developing the country’s culture and create trust and transparency in these activities.

Many said that the issuance of Circular No. 04/2023/TT-BTC of the Ministry of Finance is to manage merit and donated money of relic sites and organizations of festivals. What do you think about this opinion?

Circular No. 04/2023/TT-BTC dated January 19, 2023, on guidelines for the management, collection, and use of funding for the organization of festivals and religious donations or grants for relic sites and festivities, clearly shows the viewpoint of respecting and protecting everyone’s right to freedom of belief and religion; ensures that all religions are equal under the law; respects and protects the cultural and moral values of beliefs and religions; protects relic sites and lawful properties of relic sites and organizations of festivals.

Second, the State does not manage money donated for monuments and festival activities for relic sites. The relic sites make their own decisions and are responsible for receiving, managing and using merit money for the protection and promotion of the value of relics and festival activities (including self-determination on spending contents and spending level of expenditure for festival activities, protection and promotion of relic values), following laws.

Thirdly, the receipts and expenditures of merit money, grants for monuments and festival activities are booked and managed safely, openly and transparently to create trust and promote efficiency and benefits to the public.

Articles 13 and 14 of the Circular stipulate that the religious donations or grants for relic sites are managed and operated under the public non-business units and the Management Boards of relic sites. In which the spending for activities of relic sites will be conducted by percentage (%) of the donations and grants. Why does this Circular not specify the specific spending rate for uniform implementation?

Relic sites include many different types and sizes, belonging to many owners or assigned to different management and use, are located in different regions with ethnic groups; and festivals are the same. Accordingly, the amount of donations and grants for each local relic site or festival is different. Therefore, this Circular only provides principles and specific spending rates to ensure feasibility and suitability with reality in the locality and each relic site.

Currently, some monuments are collecting entrance fees; it is suggested that it is necessary to use part of the collected amount to reinvest in activities to protect and promote the value of the monuments. What is your opinion on this matter?

According to the provisions of Article 58 of the Law on Cultural Heritage, financial sources to protect and promote the value of relics include: State budget; revenues from activities of using and promoting the value of monuments (collection of entrance fees); sponsorships and contributions from domestic and foreign organizations and individuals.

The management and use of revenues from activities of using and promoting the value of cultural heritage (collection of entrance fees) shall comply with the law on fees and charges. Competent authorities shall prescribe the rate of an entrance fee; a part of the revenue shall be remitted to the state budget, and the remaining amount shall be assigned to the fee collection unit to spend for operational costs of service provision.

The amount remitted to the State budget is used for spending tasks following the provisions of the State Budget Law, including spending on restoration and embellishment of relic sites through programs and projects such as: National target program for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas for the 2021-2025 period approved in Decision No. 1719/QD-TTg dated October 14, 2021 of the Prime Minister; The program to preserve and promote the sustainable value of Vietnam’s cultural heritage in the 2021-2025 period, approved in the Prime Minister’s Decision No. 1230/QD-TTg dated July 15, 2021.

Thank you ma’am!


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