New law on planning is scheduled for adoption
The National Assembly will likely adopt the long-awaited Law on Planning next month, making it more convenient for the government to control the planning of many sectors and products, which are overlapping now.
The 12th National Assembly’s fourth session last week released a draft resolution on the implementation of the Law on Planning, which was compiled by the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI). The resolution and the law, which will take effect on January 1, 2019, are slated for adoption by the legislature on November 24.
Under the resolution, the National Assembly assigns the government to release a list of types of planning that will become invalid by
December 31, 2020, and to remove all types of product-based planning starting from January 1, 2019.
The law will adjust a total of 190 articles from 25 existing laws, and cover 38 types of national-level sectoral planning – such as roads, railways, seaports, airports, waterway infrastructure, electricity, energy, information and communication, and gas and petrol supply.
Product-level and sector-level planning will be integrated into master planning at all levels.
Many National Assembly members said they expect the law to be adopted as soon as possible, because as compared to the first draft version released during the third session in May this year, this draft has become perfected in terms of terminology, significance, and transparency, because it has received “significant adjustments”.
“I wholly support this law and expect it to be adopted as soon as possible. It is because it will help remove the current overlap of planning activities in many sectors,” said deputy Vo Dinh Tin, representing the Central Highlands province of Dak Nong.
He said that the law will also create a close connection in planning between the central and grass-roots levels. At present, each locality and each ministry has its own planning, without taking into account resources needed to implement their plans. This has created major disputes between localities and ministries.
There are currently may types of planning in Vietnam, including plans for rice, cassava, coffee, fish, and many kinds of industrial products.
Over the past few years, a total of 71 legal documents and ordinances and 73 decrees have been promulgated by the National Assembly and the government to regulate planning in Vietnam. A total of 19,285 plans of all types have been drafted by government agencies and sectors set to take effect from 2011 until 2020. Many had shortcomings, including overlaps, wasted resources, and a lack of quality.
Like many other deputies, deputy Leo Thi Lich representing the northern province of Bac Giang commented that the law will “surely help eradicate the disconnection in planning activities nationwide, curb the wastefulness of the state budget, and help fight corruption”.
Deputy Hoang Van Cuong, representing Hanoi, suggested that preparations be made as soon as possible for the implementation of the law. He warned that if the law’s implementation is delayed, many old planning activities by localities and ministries will become invalid on January 1, 2019, making it hard to attract investment.
MPI Minister Nguyen Chi Dung told the National Assembly that the law means all products will be determined by the market’s laws of supply and demand.
“The state only acts as a regulator who conducts forecasts and analysis of the market in support of the people and enterprises,” he said.
“There has been a notorious ‘ask-and give’ mechanism in past years because of sector-level and product-level planning. But under the new law, there will be no specific sector-level and product-level planning, and everything must follow the market demand,” he stressed.
The frequently-used term ‘ask-give mechanism’ refers to the means of governing society by orders rather than the rule of law, meaning that actions by lower officials are contingent on receiving approval from superiors, with various ‘favours’ exchanged in return.