Local Government Department head Nguyen Huu Duc spoke to Thoi bao Kinh te Viet Nam (Viet Nam Economics Times) about ammendments to the 1992 Constitution.
What is the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MoHA) opinion on the proposals?
The proposals are the result of a pilot project on eliminating people's councils at district/precinct/ward levels (in both urban and rural areas). In the draft constitution we introduce a new article on "local administration", a term which covers both urban and rural administrations.
Why is MoHA in favour of eliminating people's councils at these levels?
As I said, we have conducted a pilot project over the past four years which eliminated district/precinct/ward people's councils. We now also propose the elimination of people's committees at these levels. In their place would be representative offices of municipal councils, which would carry out duties assigned to them.
In other words, for a city or town there would be a municipal council with two offices, one being the people's council and the other the people's administration.
For outlying districts, there would be people's committees at communal/town level but not at district level.
With lessons learned from the pilot project MoHA developed the proposal and consulted with the government. We are now waiting for comments from the Party Politburo.
In a recent survey carried out in 10 provinces, 79 per cent of respondents agreed it was not necessary to have people's councils at district/precinct/ward levels.
Will omitting people's councils at these levels mean authorities
Will people have less opportunity to listen to public concerns?
No. Instead of having people's councils at the three levels, we propose to establish two committees: an Ombudsman committee and an urban management committee while increasing the number of councillors on provincial people's councils. We also propose to encourage people, the Viet Nam Fatherland Front and civil organisations to send in their comments on the performance of local governments and government policies.
Some people suggest creating city councils headed by mayors. Why does MoHA not favour such an option?
We have consulted with urban organisations from other countries. But for us, our urban administration model is quite different from other countries.
In Viet Nam, urban and countryside are intertwined, they cannot be separated. In other words, urban is in the countryside and vice versa. — VNS