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Deputies grill trade minister

Update: June, 15/2012 - 10:27

 

The under construction Plei Krong Hydropower Plant in Kon Tum Province. The opening up of the power sector to boost efficiency and lower prices was among a number of pressing topics National Assembly deputies raised with Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang yesterday. — VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha
HA NOI — Minister of Industry and Trade Vu Huy Hoang was grilled on the monopoly of the power sector, trade fraud and the poor supporting industry at a Q&A session of the National Assembly yesterday.

Opening the session, deputy Bui Manh Hung from southern Binh Phuoc Province asked: "When will the monopoly of the electricity sector come to an end and what are the minister's responsibilities in the process of developing a competitive power market?"

Hoang said from June, electricity was now being generated competitively. The ministry is expected to establish a competitive power wholesale market and a competitive electricity retail market by 2022.

At present, power transmission and distribution is managed by Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN). Other players include PetroVietnam, Vinacomin and Song Da.

The minister said the Government recently allowed the establishment of three generation corporations to operate independently in an initial step towards building a competitive power market.

 

Minister Vu Huy Hoang
Explaining the slow progress being made towards a competitive power market, Hoang said, "Power is a special commodity, directly related to national energy security, impacting the lives of residents, business production and the economy. Thus, it requires careful planning."

The minister admitted some responsibility for monopoly problems in the power sector.

Some NA deputies suggested shortening the time for developing a competitive power market.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai replied, "Because of the impact of power prices on the economy, the Prime Minister requested careful planning to ensure stable energy supply and fair competition."

It was essential to undertake trial steps and draw experience in the quest for a competitive market, he said.

Hoang said the Ministry of Industry and Trade had co-ordinated with relevant ministries and localities to review hydropower projects and asked the Government to remove 52 due to ineffectiveness and waste of land and forestry.

Nguyen Ngoc Phuong, a deputy from central Quang Binh Province, expressed his worries about smuggling, tax evasion as well as fake and poor quality goods.

Hoang explained that there were still loopholes in review and investigation while rules on punishment remained too weak to prevent trade fraud.

The ministry asked the Government to amend and supplement penalties as well as equip relevant agencies with modern tools and technologies to uncover such incidents in the light of increasingly sophisticated crimes.

Truong Thi Anh, a deputy from HCM City, complained about the slow development of supporting industries.

Hoang admitted that this industry was a weak point in Viet Nam's manufacturing sector. The ministry submitted a decision for supporting industry development to the Government in February 2011.

It included policies on taxes and other incentives to encourage enterprises investing into the sectors while only focusing on key products and areas.

Besides the above-mentioned problems, NA deputies questioned the minister about the monopoly of the petrol sector, the leak at the Song Tranh hydro-power plant, cement abundance, mineral exploitation and poor quality fertiliser.

Crime concerns

 

Minister Tran Dai Quang
In the afternoon session, the Minister of Public Security, Tran Dai Quang, was challenged, for the first time, on an increase in foreign-related crime.

Minister Quang said although 986 crimes were reported in the first six months of this year, down 2.6 per cent on the same period last year, the situation was complicated by new types of serious level crime.

Quang said high-tech foreign criminals had emerged among foreign traders recently.

The minister said foreigners used tourist visas to illegally get jobs at industrial and economic zones, construction works or factories. Some foreign traders cheated farmers by offering to purchase agricultural products at high prices, but failing to pay.

Quang said there was no evidence to conclude this was intended to undermine the country's economy. "It's simply an individual's behaviour to get profit," he said.

In terms of high-tech crime, Quang said the ministry had established a high-tech police force and discovered 332 foreign offenders related to information security and electronic payments.

The offenders, mostly from Thailand, mainland China and Taiwan, were expelled or returned to relevant authorities in their home countries.

The minister said this type of crime was a threat, proven by the number of attacks by hackers on domestic websites.

"The risk of high-tech war in our country is possible," he said. "Hostile forces are using social networks to make propaganda against the Government and cause social chaos."

Quang admitted the information network of Viet Nam remained loose and had many loopholes, but added that the ministry was working with the Ministry of Information to check violations on the Internet.

Explaining the increasing number of teenagers involved in serious or violent crimes, Quang said this was caused by moral decline among youths, the effects of violent online games, shortage of playgrounds for young people and loose management from families and schools.

The minister said mobile police had found many young people carrying weapons bought at local markets and shops.

In reply to questions about traffic police taking bribes, Quang said the problem could not be solved in a day.

The minister pledged the ministry would fight bribery and called for more assistance from the public about police violations.

NA members also questioned Minister Quang on the ministry's measures to arrest wanted official Duong Chi Dung, former head of the Viet Nam Maritime Department.

The minister said police had prepared an arrest warrant and were co-ordinating with international police if he fled the country.

Quang asked the National Assembly to amend the anti-corruption law to allow police to secretly investigate offenders and take measures to prevent them from escaping.

In terms of site clearance in localities, Minister Quang said the task of the police was to protect security during land enforcement. — VNS

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