Deputy urges tighter oversight of use of state assets

Published: 21/03/2010 05:00

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“The relations between the National Assembly and the government are the relatively independent but not oppositional. We’re all on the same team,” says deputy Le Minh Hong.

Deputy Le Minh Hong was born on January 25 1949 in Ninh Binh Province in North Vietnam. He now lives in Hanoi. Hong is the Vice Chairman of the NA’s Committee for Culture, Education, Youth and Children.

VietNamNet: You have been a legislator for three consecutive terms. How has the NA changed?

Deputy Le Minh Hong: In recent years, there’s been progress and innovation. The impacts of NA sessions are quite strong and welcomed by constituents.

There have been substantial changes in how we operate. Our discussion of bills has been improved very much, especially since the early 11th NA.

In the past, NA deputies often discussed each article or even each sentence or clause in draft laws but now the NA focuses on the objectives and the controversial issues – we don’t get bogged down on technical issues and choice of words. That’s the task of a specialized agency, which polishes legislation before it is put into force.

Further, we’ve emphasized that Government bodies should be engaged from the beginning of the process in verifying that a proposed law is realistic. [We aim to] work in a way that’s democratic, concrete, sincere and neither indulgent nor oppositional. The discussions are more realistic and factual, the process is faster and – viewed as a whole – the laws we pass are of higher quality.

The amended Law on the Issuance of Legal Documents, which took effect on January 1, 2009, allows one new bill to amend several existing laws. That also saves time, and allows us to address the ‘substance’ of legislation in a more timely way.

VietNamNet: How about the question and answer sessions, which constituents watch with such interest?

Hong: The work of supervision of the Government, including the question and answer periods, has also improved a lot. At each NA session, distilled from thousands of viewpoints and comments by constituents, hundreds of questions are raised by NA deputies for the Prime Minister and cabinet members.

We deputies raise questions in groups so that the Q&A sessions always go to the key points. Matters placed on the agenda are very ‘hot,’ for example the extent to which the stimulus package reached small and medium enterprises, food hygiene, waste of land, over-investment in golf courses, etc.

Through the Q&A, many concerns of NA deputies and constituents are made clear. After these sessions, cabinet members pay visits to ‘the grassroots’ to check the results.

It’s not perfect yet. Some NA deputies still raise long and unclear questions. Some cabinet members just give general answers and haven’t addressed the problems satisfactorily.

VietNamNet: Are the relations between the NA and the government strained by the question and answer procedures?

Hong: The relationships between the NA and the government, including ties between deputies and ministers, are relations of unity and close combination. The legislature and the Government are relatively independent but not confrontational. We’re all on the same team. Each organization has a relatively independent position and performs its duties and missions as the Constitution requires, but we share a common goal: working for the people.

VietNamNet: Since 2005, you and some other NA deputies have been fierce critics of misspending in state agencies. How is the situation after four years?

Hong: The Law on Practicing Thrift and Combating Misspending was discussed and approved at the 11th NA in November 2005 and took effect on June 1, 2006.

After four years of implementation, the results are good in all fields, i.e., using the state budget, investment in capital construction, managing and using land, state offices, state houses and managing capital and assets at state-owned firms.

However, misspending in state agencies is still prevalent, and this worries the public.

For example, the supervisory report of the NA’s Committee for Finance and Budget shows that in 2007-2008, state agencies bought 14 cars of higher value than allowed, totaling over seven billion dong. Some project management units bought cars that exceeded the limited value by over 20 billion dong. There were cases where state assets were not used properly, were leased illegally, and managed loosely.

A number of state agencies, locations, ministries and enterprises control large areas of land and office space but use these assets ineffectively.

VietNamNet: We can’t give up fighting misspending, can we?

Hong: To solve the above situation, I think that the government needs to issue instructions on the implementation of the Law on Management and Use of State Assets that went into effect in January 1 2009 after its ratification by the legislature.

The government also should update its standards and regulations on using state assets to adapt to the current situation. It ought to issue regulations on the responsibility of top officials in using state assets and establish strong sanctions on violations.

It is necessary to enforce the regulations on democracy at the grassroots level and the rules on transparency in managing and using state assets.

These are very important measures to manage state money and state property and to keep good officials.

Linh Lan

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