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Lawmakers adopt draft changes to constitution

Update: November, 29/2013 - 08:26

The National Assembly (NA) passed the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution with nearly 98 per cent of votes at yesterday's morning session.— VNA/VNS Photos An Dang

HA NOI (VNS) — The National Assembly (NA) passed the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution with nearly 98 per cent of votes at yesterday's morning session, which was broadcast live on national TV and radio.

Most lawmakers agreed that after 11 months of collecting feedback from legislators and the public, the draft had been perfected and truly showed the strong will of the entire nation.

From January 1 to September 30, some 26 million recommendations were gathered from agencies, organisations and individuals, including overseas Vietnamese.

During this period, 28,149 conferences, meetings and forums were held to collect public opinion. These recommendations were carefully summarised and delivered to the National Assembly deputies.

The amended Constitution is divided into 11 chapters with 120 articles (one chapter and 27 articles fewer than the previous version), closely following resolutions set at numerous national Party congresses and suggestions made by the Party Central Committee and the Politburo.

The document includes a significant amount of new content, reflecting the progressive nature of the State and political regime. It stipulates political, economic, cultural, educational, technological and environmental regulations as well as those on human rights, basic rights and obligations of citizens, national defence, the State apparatus and the process of further Constitutional amendments.

According to the report by the Committee for Drafting Amendments to the 1992 Constitution, which was presented before deputies voting for adoption, the revised Constitution has clearer regulations on human rights and the rights and obligations of citizens than the previous version, proving the State's commitment to protecting human rights and citizens' rights in line with international treaties.

The amended Constitution is divided into 11 chapters with 120 articles (one chapter and 27 articles fewer than the previous version).

It covers most basic human rights relating to politics, civil rights, economy, society and culture, while the 1992 Constitution only regulated the basic rights and obligations of citizens.

The revised Constitution also includes clearer regulations on the responsibility that the Party bears for its decisions.

Concerning the organisation of local governments, the revised Constitution regulates that local governments are administrative units of Viet Nam. The local government level includes people's councils and people's committees, which are of necessity organised differently in urban, rural and island areas.

As for land retrieval, the amended Constitution regulates that land retrieval can only be made for socio-economic development projects in line with national and public interest.

Unlike the previous version, the amended constitution clearly distinguishes the functions and tasks of legislative, executive and judicial bodies.

Speaking at the sitting, NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung, who is also Chairman of the Committee for Drafting Amendments to the 1992 Constitution, said that the historic document provided a sustainable legal framework for Viet Nam's continued integration and development.

"The final legal document is a result of enthusiastic discussions by all lawmakers, based on crucial input from people from all walks of life. It's a manifestation of the public's aspirations for the nation as well as the current state of political harmony," he said.

While Hung admitted that differing viewpoints remained on some articles of the draft, he said a majority of people and the NA had reached consensus on the document as a whole.

After adopting the full text of the draft, lawmakers passed a resolution on the enforcement of the amended Constitution, which will take effect on January 1, 2014.

Those controversial opinions would continue to be heard along the path of national renewal, the chief legislator said.

After adopting the full text of the draft, lawmakers passed a resolution on the enforcement of the amended Constitution, which will take effect on January 1, 2014.

In the afternoon, NA deputies passed a resolution on the issuance of Government bonds. Nearly 84 per cent voted "yes" to issuing VND170 trillion (US$8 billion) in Government bonds for investment in four groups of projects.

These include projects relating to the improvement of the National Highway and Ho Chi Minh Highway, existing projects which need funding for the 2012-15 period, projects that are part of the National Programme on building a new rural lifestyle model and projects using official development assistance.

NA deputies also agreed on the need to issue a law on immigration and residency.

Deputy Nguyen Anh Son from northern Nam Dinh Province and Deputy Nguyen Minh Kha from southern Can Tho Province said such a law was necessary for the management of foreigners in Viet Nam.

However, deputies cautioned that the drafting process must take into account the principle of national sovereignty and equality in international relations and the need for economic development and expanding relations with foreign countries, while also ensuring national security and social order.

Regarding the matter of simplifying immigration procedures, deputy Nguyen Thi Phuong Dao from southern Ben Tre Province said the drafting team should come up with separate regulations on visa issuance and the amount of time foreigners can stay in Viet Nam.

She also suggested visa duration be extended beyond one year to make life easier for foreign investors.

Deputy Luu Thi Huyen from northern Ninh Binh Province said the draft law needed stricter rules for foreigners who wanted to work in Viet Nam and should define the responsibilities of agencies that act as guarantors for foreigners coming to the country.

Deputy Nguyen Minh Kha from southern Can Tho Province said the draft law should address the responsibility of hotels and guesthouses to notify local immigration agencies of any foreign guests. — VNS

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