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NA weighs in on special economic zone’s authority as unconstitutional risk looms

Update: November, 23/2017 - 10:39
The prospect of establishing three special economic zones is more likely than ever, but future administrations there are at risk of being unconstitutional. — Photo vietnamnet.vn

HÀ NỘI – The prospect of establishing three special economic zones is more likely than ever, but future administrations there are at risk of being unconstitutional.

The National Assembly (NA) yesterday afternoon debated the draft Law on Special Administrative-Economic Units (SAEU) which regulates the management of three proposed special administrative-economic units, including Vân Đồn in the north (Quảng Ninh Province), Bắc Vân Phong in the centre (Khánh Hòa Province), and Phú Quốc Island in the south (Kiên Giang Province). 

Lawmakers proposed two models of the administrative system for those special zones.

The first one is a remarkably bold move as it abolishes two conventional administrative units: the People’s Committee and the People’s Council, and instead would have a single chief as head of a special zone’s administration. The second model has an administration structure similar to other localities.

The NA was divided on the matter. While several deputies supported appointing a chief to lead the SAEU as it was deemed be a “breakthrough” in the administrative system, others expressed concerns over its legitimacy.

Deputy Lê Thanh Vân from Cà Mau Province said that Article 111 of the Constitution in 2013 clearly regulates that the People’s Committee and People’s Council will act as local Government even in a SAEU.

The first proposed model, therefore, is at a great chance of breaching the Constitution.

“The NA must at first uphold the Constitution,” he said.

Hà Nội deputy Ngọ Duy Hiểu, meanwhile, rejected both models.

The first model violated the principle of monitoring political power, Hiếu said, as it granted too much power to a single person – the SAEU chief. The other model, meanwhile, was no different from the existing system and might not work for a SAEU.

“I think we should have a SAEU’s council, including experts in several fields to consult the chief and also members voted in by the public to check authorities’ performance,” he said.

99-year land lease

According to the draft SAEU law, a ‘strategic investor’ can be granted a land lease of up to 99 years in special economic zones.

Deputy Trương Trọng Nghĩa from HCM City questioned the Government on a clear definition of ‘strategic investor’ who would be allowed to occupy the land for nearly a century in SAEUs that play a fundamental role in national defence and security. 

Minister of Investment and Planning Nguyễn Chí Dũng said that a 99-year land lease will be only given to projects in a few prioritised sectors, and must be agreed to by the Prime Minister.

Dũng was meant to expand on the matter, when NA Deputy Chairman Uông Chu Lưu, who chaired yesterday afternoon’s session, interrupted as “time for the session was up”. – VNS   

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