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VietNamNews

Law targets investment in science, technology

Update: September, 15/2012 - 09:03

 

Scientists carry out experiments on rice plants at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development's Agricultural Genetics Institute. — VNA/VNS Photo The Duyet
HA NOI (VNS)— The Standing Committee of the National Assembly discussed the draft of the amended Law on Science and Technology and the draft project on confidence voting procedures during its hearing yesterday.

Regarding the draft of the amended law, the law makers agreed that it should serve as a legal base to remove all barriers holding back the development of the country's science and technology, boost investment of the whole society in this field and mobilize the capabilities of experts.

Chairman of the NA's Committee for Science, Technology and Environment Phan Xuan Dung said the regulation that 2 per cent of the annual expenses from the State budget could be used as a fund for science and technology was reasonable.

But it was necessary to define the amount of non-state investment into this field. Enterprises should spend at least 10 per cent of their profit before taxing science and technology, he said.

The lawmakers shared Dung's opinion. They suggested that specific rules on spending for science and technology should be defined in the amended law to ensure the effectiveness of investments in this field.

However, they proposed that the drafting board keep reviewing the regulations in the amended law to make it more feasible.

Dung said that the regulations should be more specific, consistent and transparent to make it easier for subjects to implement the law.

Kso Phuoc, chairman of the NA Council of Ethnic Affairs, said the draft law lacked regulations on mobilizing the role of society in developing science and technology.

Head of NA Office Nguyen Hanh Phuc said there should be detailed regulations encouraging scientists to study modern and high technology machines to help raise productivity.

The draft of the amended Law on Science and Technology includes eight chapters and 80 articles.

Confidence

Earlier, discussing the draft project on confidence voting procedures, Chairman of the NA Law Committee Phan Trung Ly said there were two alternatives regarding the question of who would be subject to confidence voting procedures.

The first option was to hold votes of confidence for the 49 key posts elected or approved by the NA or the provincial People's Committees.

In the second option, the confidence voting would be applied to all 430 posts.

Most of the committee's members tended towards the first option, agreeing that narrowing down the confidence voting procedure to only key posts would ensure the feasibility of the project. This was an important factor to look at given that this is the first time Viet Nam will initiate the process for holding confidence votes.

Chairman of the NA National Defence and Security Committee Nguyen Kim Khoa said: "We should run the confidence voting with extreme caution because this procedure reflects the people's legitimate right to monitor elected officials. The result would have a huge impact."

However, the committee was divided when it came to the question of how frequently to hold votes of confidence. While some members preferred the votes to be held annually, others thought that this would be too much and could possibly affect an official's decisions.

Chairman of the NA Finance and State Budget Committee Phung Quoc Hien was among those who believe the vote should be implemented on a biennial basis because if it happened too often, such pressure would render officials too cautious to take bold actions.

NA Economic Committee chairman Nguyen Van Giau also agreed: "The efficiency of an official's management capacity needs some time to show."

Nonetheless, in disagreement, NA Vice Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said that officials should get used to the new culture of being frequently kept in check.

"It may cause some disruption in the first few years but in the long run, operations will become normal. If we do not start now, we may never be able to do it," she said.

The committee also discussed which source of information the NA deputies should depend on to decide their confidence on an official's performance. All agreed that the officials' own performance report was far from enough.

Chairman of NA Justice Committee Nguyen Van Hien said: "The thing is, officials can always make themselves look super good in the report despite their real performance. Not to mention, in many cases, not all NA deputies who would participate in the vote know about the officials because they have not worked with them before."

He suggested broadening the information source base to ensure NA deputies make informed and subjective decisions. These sources include the assessment of the agencies for which the officials were working.

While the project's proposal suggested three levels of confidence – high, normal, low – some committee members preferred simple "yea or nay" voting.

Chairman of Committee for External Relations Tran Van Hang said: "The procedure should be as simple as possible and the criteria should be made clear in concrete terms."

This view was echoed by the chairwoman of Committee for Social Affairs who said that it would be more difficult to set criteria if there were many levels in place. This lack of clarity would lead to a situation when NA deputies would vote based on their personal preferences rather than sound assessment.

Many members agreed that the results should be published publicly to ensure the transparency of NA operations.

During the discussion, some members raised the question of what would happen next after the voting. Some members suggested that if officials continued to receive votes of low confidence, they should be encouraged to resign from their posts.

NA Vice Chairwoman Ngan said: "The proposal should add a provision on the resignation procedure, so we could implement a culture of resignation in which an official performing badly would voluntarily step down."

The project's draft will continue to be reviewed before it is submitted to the Politburo for further comments. — VNS

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