Nguyễn Chí Dũng, Minister of Planning and Investment, speaks to the Thời báo Kinh tế Sài Gòn (Sài Gòn Economic Times) about the importance of enacting the Law on Planning.
Will you explain why the draft Law on Planning had been approved by all Government cabinet members, but it was rejected by various ministries’ representatives at National Assembly Standing Committee meetings?
I myself defended the draft Law on Planning twice at the National Assembly Standing Committee. At those meetings, most of the delegates expressed their approval of the draft and only one or two delegates asked the drafting committee to continue to review, supplement and adjust some provisions in the draft.
No objections were raised at the two meetings. In my opinion, only some provisions and clauses of the draft need to be revised to make the law more comprehensive. In short, I can say that the draft law has enjoyed big support from the National Assembly delegates.
However, a few deputy ministers have insisted on maintaining sectoral planning. In my opinion, this is the major stumbling block.
In my address at an NA Standing Committee meeting, I emphasised the need to respect the working principle, which is to closely follow legal procedures in compiling a law. The draft Law on Planning was subject to discussion by government cabinet members many times and they agreed to present it to the National Assembly. Therefore the draft law is from, and on behalf of, the Government. Of course, we respect comments or suggestions from all deputies. But we have to follow the adopted working principles. If any cabinet members have cast their votes to approve the draft law and have now changed their mind, they should send letters to the PM who may organise a meeting to discuss the contentious points. If it is necessary, the PM may send a letter to the NA Standing Committee to make adjustments.
However, after the meeting of the NA Standing Committee, we, at the Ministry of Planning met with all ministries and sectors at a meeting organised by the NA Economic Committee. At that meeting, we discussed each point and all participants agreed with the draft prepared the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).
A high number of people have expressed their approval of the draft Law on Planning prepared by the MPI and they have considered it the death knell of the practice of “ask and give”.
I can’t agree more! In the past, there was a place for the practice of “ask and give”. But, with the new Law on Planning, there will be no law on product planning. Everything must follow market demand. For example, there will be no quotas given for the amount of rice to be planted or the amount of shrimp to be farmed in a given year. Farmers themselves will make their own decisions in accordance with market demands. In other words, there will be no more command economy in our country.
Some people have lamented that the MPI has made the Law on Planning for their own benefit. How do you respond to such claims?
I’m sorry to say that those people have not read the draft law and misunderstand its provisions. We are not taking away the State’s assigned missions from any other ministries or sectors. In our legal system, each ministry has to develop its own planning. The objective of writing the Law on Planning is to help us manage the national planning policy framework, not to undertake the planning for each ministry or sector.
However, regarding the integrated national planning policy framework, we have requested the Government to assign a government agency to do the appraisal and submission to the government for approval.
Under our law, the MPI is a co-ordinating agency among Vietnamese government agencies so that they can sit down together and discuss the common issues in their planning documents. Besides, the national appraisal agency will have representatives from all ministries and sectors.
Do you think the importance of the Law on Planning is second to the Enterprises Law?
I can’t give an answer to your question. But the Law on Planning is really very important. Why? The poor implementation of the Law on Practicing Thrifty and Fight Waste has had negative impacts on national development, particularly planning activities. A case in point is the serious traffic problems in Hà Nội and Hồ Chí Minh City. No doubt, a key reason behind these issues is poor urban planning!
If the law is approved by the National Assembly, what will be the major impact on national economic development?
In a near future, we’ll have a Master Plan for Development. Of course, the sectoral planning or local planning work will be reflected in that Master Plan of Development and they will serve as the spring boards for national development. By that time, the role of the State, the market, the enterprises will be very clear and they all work together to make the country advance._VNS