Wednesday, October 26 2016


Amended law on media expected to allow greater journalistic freedoms

Update: November, 05/2015 - 09:40
One of the new contents of the law is that no censorship is conducted before the publication or broadcasting of any media works. — Photo baogiaothong

HA NOI (VNS) — The National Assembly yesterday said some provisions in the draft of the amended law on media still hindered media freedom and asked the drafting committee to ensure the law doesn't intervene too much in media activities.

The comments were made yesterday by the NA's Committee for Culture, Education, Youth, Adolescents and Children.

While saying that draft law has adapted to changes in society to regulate the media's activities, the committee also asked the drafting committee to study further and make adjustments.

For instance, the committee said it was unnecessary for the law to require complicated procedures for attaining media activities licences, which it said would hinder media freedom.

The committee was not fond of the draft law's requirement that correspondents or a media branch office must have written acceptance document from a local people's committee when coming to work in the area.

It suggested that media outlets only need to send a letter informing local authorities about correspondents working in the area.

In an interview with local media, deputy minister of Information and Communications Truong Minh Tuan, said the amended Law on Media consists of many new provisions that would largely support the media sector's activities.

One of the new contents of the law is that no censorship is conducted before the publication or broadcasting of any media works.

The amended law also features detailed provisions on prohibited content for media to protect individuals' rights and credibility. Currently, many media outlets run articles, intentionally or unintentinally, that infringe on the rights of an individual or an organisation. Such activities are now clearly regulated in the new law.

Tuan also said the infringement of coryright had been a pressing problem for the country's media in the past time. In the new law, it is stated that if such infringements are carried out, those who conduct such acts would have to bear certain punishments.

Time to tighten

It is time for Viet Nam to tighten its belt itself rather than be forced to do so by international financial institutions, warned deputy chairman of the National Assembly (NA)'s Commission of Finance and State Budget on Tuesday following the latest reports showing the state budget was running in the red.

Tran Van gave out his alert in the afternoon meeting session of the NA yesterday which focused on the years-going unbalanced budget spending and efforts to map out a financial plan to tackle the issue in 2016 that will soon arrive in less than two months.

The unbalanced budget spending rate has been on-going for years at more than 5 per cent of GDP a year, said Van, rocketing from VND112 trillion (US$4.9 billion) in 2011 to VND226 trillion ($10 billion) this year.

The situation just got worse with the huge amount of government bonds sold of about VND85 trillion ($3.7 billion) in 2015 alone, together with the over disbursement of Official Development Assistance (ODA) funding of VND30 trillion ($1.3 billion) this year compared to the original budget plan agreed upon late last year.

Regarding Viet Nam's capability to pay off its debts, Van said that the country has already failed to do so in the last two years, and only managed to pay the old debts by borrowing new loans when the deadlines came.

"2013 was the first time we had to borrow new loans of VND40 trillion ($1.7 billion), but it soon climbed up to VND77 trillion ($3.4 billion) in 2014 and VND125 trillion ($5.5 billion) in 2015," said Van.

"It's hard to say that everything is doing well when we can't pay the debts on its deadlines but have to restructure debt in order to prolong the pay-off time."

Van also blamed the alarming situation on the increasing use of loans and the no-sign-of-decreasing spending amounts of a government system of which officials' capabilities have yet to be improved along with serious red-tape.

Ha Nam Province NA Deputy Phung Duc Tien seconded that, adding that the budget spending used for organising events, festivals and overseas business trips still accounted for quite a high cost in the annual budget.

In order to prevent further looming increases in the state debts, the deputy chairman of the National Assembly (NA)'s Commission of Finance and State Budget suggested the NA and the Government consider "freezing" the overspending amount set for next year, currently at VND254 trillion ($11.2 billion), for the next three years instead of deciding on a yearly rise based on the percentage ratio to GDP like the government has done until now.

He also asked to "freeze" new recruitment at state agencies and organisations in the next three years to "re-identify" the posts of government officers, aiming to a big slash in the number of state officers in the future in an effort to reduce budget spending. — VNS

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