Power control is vital to fighting against group interests in legislative activities

October 01, 2022 - 09:10
Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, Deputy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the 15th National Assembly talks to Quân đội nhân dân (People’s Army) newspaper about preventing and fighting "group interests", policy corruption in policy and law-making activities.
Deputy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the 15th National Assembly Nguyễn Mạnh Cường

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Nguyễn Mạnh Cường, Deputy Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the 15th National Assembly talks to Quân đội nhân dân (People’s Army) newspaper about preventing and fighting "group interests" and corruption in policy and law-making activities.

As one of the members of the Drafting Committee of the National Assembly (NA) to develop the draft "Politburo's regulation on controlling power, preventing and fighting against "group interests", corruption, negative in law-making work", what are the main concerns?

Fighting against corruption and negative manifestations in the form of "group interests" is an issue that has been mentioned in many documents of the Party and has received great attention from the public recently.

“Group interests” can affect the policy making process (at the central or local level), especially the policy implementation process and brings about negative, unwarranted “interests”, causing negative impacts, as well as great loss and waste of state property. In policy making, in order to reap unwarranted benefits for "groups", these people can influence the promulgation of specific policies, such as policies on investment, taxation, finance, banking, administrative procedures and organisational structure. These policies, although beneficial to a small group of people, cause great damage to the common interests of the nation. Some people benefit from complicated administrative procedures, but the majority of people lose.

For the legislature, “groups” can influence the policy-making process and oversee policy implementation. In fact, because the law-making process is strictly regulated, and at the same time, the legislative authority only focuses on promulgating general policies for the whole country, (it only promulgates laws, resolutions and doesn’t have the authority on law enforcement) the influence of such groups on legislative activities is less common.

However, the possibility of influencing legislative activities is entirely possible through improperly campaigning on the drafting, taking people’s opinions, correction and voting of policies, and so on. Therefore, it is important to raise vigilance and fully implement measures to control and prevent the manifestation of group interests in policy-making procedures.

How do you see the actual implementation of the provisions of the law on prevention and fighting against "group interests" in policy and law development in our country?

Implementing the provisions of the Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents, the NA has passed a large number of laws with increasingly improved quality. The law-making process is strictly implemented; draft laws and ordinances are organised to collect opinions from relevant agencies and organisations and the subjects directly affected by the document in many suitable forms. The quality of appraisal and verification reports is increasingly improved, ensuring independence, objectivity, and high criticality, stating the opinion of the appraising and verifying agency on the draft document.

The deliberations of the NA deputies and the reception and revision of the draft laws were conducted seriously. The process of consulting the Politburo on major and important contents of the law project is strictly followed, ensuring the Party's leadership in law-making work. The strict implementation of the above provisions has basically ensured control over legislative activities, ensuring that legal documents are promulgated publicly, transparently, with quality and reflected in line with the Party's guidelines and policies, the people's will, and meet the requirements of socio-economic development.

However, in the process of organising and implementing, there are still some limitations, leading to the ineffectiveness of controlling power to prevent and fighting "group interests", corruption from policy-making procedures. Publicity, transparency and democracy in the law-making process are more important, but in the law-drafting process, the collection of opinions on the draft and even the proposal for law-making, in general, are sometimes formalistic; The quality of comments is not high, especially for new, complicated and controversial issues.

In addition, the agencies submitting the projects have not spent adequate time to consider and approve the draft law before submitting it to the NA, in some cases they only ask for members' opinions in writing, so debates and discussions are limited.

Appraisal and verification work is a legal "gatekeeper" activity that is getting stricter and stricter, but why are there still legal documents that have not been effective? Is there integration of "group interests" and local interests in this stage?

From the perspective of the Judiciary Committee, we think that the quality of the appraisal and verification reports is not in uniform. The content of some law project reports is still sketchy, not based on scientific arguments. In some cases, the verification report only paid attention to the major issues mentioned in the report by the submitting agency.

However, it does not exclude the possibility that there are really big problems relating to "group interests", local interests, which are not mentioned in the report. If the verification report does not indicate that issue, it does not fulfil the task of advising the National Assembly to focus on discussing important issues of the project and eliminate "group interests", local interests.

In addition, a number of low-quality law projects have been submitted to the NA and needed to be revised. However, at this point, the project was "located in the National Assembly yard", the drafting agency was almost solely responsible for participating; the revision and re-drafting of the project is not subject to the procedures of the Law on Promulgation of Legal Documents (impact assessment, consultation with affected subjects...). This also leads to the law project’s less effectiveness.

In the composition of the NAy deputies, there are still too many concurrent deputies who are leaders of executive and judicial apparatus. There are a number of cases where officials from ministries and branches are seconded to be leaders and permanent members of the NAy's committees. This has affected the independence of the committees.

Is it urgently important to ensure control of power to prevent and fight against "group interests", corruption, and negativity in policy and law making activities?

Controlling power to prevent and fight against "group interests", "policy corruption" in policy-making activities has a very important role and meaning. The focus is building and perfecting institutions, one of the three strategic breakthroughs in the goal of national development, building a socialist rule-of-law State of Việt Nam.

This is a very important and urgent job in order to clear bottlenecks and remove difficulties in the process of socio-economic development. Doing this job well also contributes to the fight against corruption and negativity, preventing the corruption and metamorphosis of a part of cadres and party members. The fight against "group interests", "policy corruption" is practically contributing to protecting the prestige and leadership capacity of the Party, protecting the majesty of the State's laws and protecting the state's laws and the superiority of the socialist regime we are building.

What issues should we focus on in the future?

To identify group interests in policy and law development, for each policy, we need to clarify: Who does the policy benefit? Is there a negative in policy adoption? Specifically, it is necessary to answer the following questions: Is the policy developed transparently, publicly, according to the correct process, or is there shady and negative manifestations? Is the policy for the common interest of the people, the nation, the nation or the interests of a group of people? If it benefits only a few people, is that benefit justifiable? Many of the above issues will be clarified through the policy impact assessment report.

When making policies and laws, they must reflect the will, aspirations and common interests of the people and the interests of the nation. Therefore, the most important thing is to ensure publicity, democracy and transparency in the steps of implementing the process, thereby creating conditions for state agencies and people to monitor the activities.

It is also necessary to clearly stipulate the authority to issue documents, the issue of legislative authorisation, eliminating the abuse of power and arbitrariness in promulgating documents.

It is necessary to stipulate the responsibility of participating agencies in the drafting process; have strict regulations on collecting opinions from ministries, branches and localities, opinions of subjects affected by the project. Such mobilisation of participation and public opinion on the bill will ensure that the policies made in the law project are objective, comprehensive, quality, and free from group interests. Policy commenters and critics must be sincere; and the responsible person and the policy appraisal agency must also take into account these opinions. Only then can we really bring into play the intellectual quintessence of all classes of people in the making of policies and laws.

In particular, it is necessary to stipulate the content of appraisal and verification to ensure the control of policies in the law project. All opinions of the committee members must be reflected in the verification report. These regulations are intended to ensure that the law project is considered, examined and evaluated in many ways, thereby eliminating the installation of "group interests", local interests. VNS