|PetroVietnam's operations in the Bạch Hổ (White Tiger) Oil Field off the shores of Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province. — VNA/VNS Photo Huy Hùng|
HÀ NỘI — National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ on Tuesday said that Prime Minister should be the one to approve the contents of petroleum contracts.
A contract of this nature is very important, with a duration lasting decades and binding responsibilities and obligations, and it’s fitting that the Government leader makes the decision on this. The top legislator made his stance clear with regard to this still under-discussion issue, during the legislation meeting by the National Assembly Standing Committee held in Hà Nội on amendments to the Law on Petroleum.
The parliament discussed this matter at length during its third plenary session in May-June this year.
Vũ Hồng Thanh, Chair of the NA Economic Committee, said some deputies were not fully behind giving the authorisation to approve petroleum contracts to the State-owned PetroVietnam (Việt Nam Oil and Gas Group), saying that this might not be subjective in case PVN also signs the contract as an independent contractor of sorts.
It was then suggested that the amendments follow the opinions of the National Assembly deputies – that the Prime Minister only approves the main content of the petroleum contract, accordingly. And it falls on the Ministry of Industry and Trade to approve the detailed contents of the contract, and on that basis, PVN will sign and manage the oil and gas contract.
At the same time, it was proposed that the regulation requiring the Government to issue a “model” petroleum contract, to ensure policy consistency.
|The National Assembly Standing Committee session held on Tuesday in Hà Nội. — VNA/VNS Photo Doãn Tấn|
Many other deputies, however, maintained that the petroleum sharing contracts were important legal agreements between the State and the contractors, binding the rights and obligations of the parties participating in the prospecting, exploration and exploitation of natural oil and gas resources, with sensitive contents related to national security and defence, national territory and sovereignty, etc. so it was appropriate to regulate that the Prime Minister must approve the whole contents of the contracts.
NA Chair Huệ said as per the first proposed line, splitting the approval process into two would make it harder down the line to seek accountability if problems occur.
He said the Government leader should be approving all contents of the contracts, while the Ministry of Industry and Trade can take care of the rest.
Deputy Minister of Justice Nguyễn Khánh Ngọc said investors “only know the contracts” when doing business, so he also agreed the Prime Minister should be approving the contracts, especially given that petroleum activities concern many sectors and ministries, the Ministry of Industry and Trade realistically cannot make a decision on their own and still need a committee to deliberate matters anyway.
Minister of Trade and Industry Nguyễn Hồng Diên said the items in a contract were complicated and interlinked, it would be hard to define clearly what the main ones or less important ones are, alluding to the two-step authorisation process.
He was also of the opinion that the Government leader shall be approving the contracts. — VNS