Laws are easier to implement when they reflect reality. Dinh Xuan Thao, director of the Legislative Studies Institute of the National Assembly, told the Hai quan (Customs) newspaper.
Recent circulars issued by state agencies have recently come under fire for failing to reflect reality. What is your position on this?
Under the Vietnamese Constitution, all Government agencies and citizens are subject to the law. Generally speaking, the country's laws are compiled by the National Assembly while the Government is responsible for producing guidelines that help implement and execute each law.
Legally speaking, these guidelines detail how a law is to be implemented. It is strictly prohibited for the document to go against the spirit of the law. However, in reality, some of these guidelines contradict the character of their governing law.
According to reports, thousands of pointless legal documents have been issued that cannot be applied in real life. A case in point, one Government draft regulation prohibited "flat-chested" women from riding motorbikes.
What measures should be taken to ensure laws are applied affectively?
I think it is essential that those compiling new laws adhere to the Law on the Promulgation of Legal Documents. They need to seek legal advice, consult those who will be most affected and post the draft law on the Government or appropriate ministry's website for public comment for at least 60 days.
This is mandated both by our laws and the legal commitments we inherited when we joined the World Trade Organisation.
Do you agree with recent suggestions that draft decrees and circulars should be posted at the same time on the Government's website?
In practice, during the process of compiling a decree, the draft committee members all recognise the problematic language in the document that requires further explanation in the circular.
Due to timing pressures and the sheer quantity of legal documents to be processed, staff at the Legal Affairs Bureau under the Ministry of Justice only manage to compile the Government's decrees. They don't have time to also write circulars.
When a draft decree is submitted to the Prime Minster for approval, the compilers don't know the PM's stance on the proposal, making it difficult for them to draft the circular at the same time. However, if it was possible for both the PM's decree and the circular to be posted at the same time for public comment, it would be an improvement. I support the idea.
The Viet Nam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) plans to publish this year's 10 best and 10 worst legal documents as part of administrative reform efforts. Do you think it's a good idea?
I think that VCCI's initiative to make public the Provincial Comparative Index (PCI), the Public Performance Index (PAPI) and now the Ministerial Effective Index (MEI) is a great idea.
The MEI is a measurement that reflects each ministry's performance score. The VCCI's decision to publish the 10 best and 10 worst legal documents will be of similar value. I hope the MEI will motivate ministries to improve in the course of national administrative reform. — VNS