Time to build a comprehensive and inclusive environmental law: minister

Update: May, 27/2020 - 08:45


Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà presents the bill proposal. — VNA/VNS Photo

HÀ NỘI — Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Trần Hồng Hà has said amending the Law on Environment Protection is urgent to ensure the country’s sustainable development.

Presenting a draft for a new law to the National Assembly (NA) on Tuesday, he said the current law has not kept up with rapid changes as the environment quality has become worse and some dumps can no longer receive new waste. The COVID-19 pandemic has sounded the alarm over the need to change environmental management and control methods, he said.

“It is time to build a comprehensive, inclusive and effective law on the environment,” he said.

The amendments aim to make Vietnamese environmental regulations relevant to international laws, with the ultimate goals of improving environmental quality, protecting public health, balancing the eco-system and protecting biological diversification, towards sustainable development, he said.

The draft law cuts more than 40 per cent of administrative procedures related to the environment and reduces waiting time for procedures to be finished by 20 to 45 days.

The draft also shortens the list of projects that need to conduct environmental impact assessments. Accordingly, only projects that use large areas of land surface, water surface and pose harmful impacts on the environment, natural landscapes and biological diversification or those that discharge a huge amount of waste and threaten the environment need the assessments.

According to the draft, the ministries of construction, transport, industry and trade, agriculture and rural development would be responsible for working with provincial People’s Committees to assess the projects’ environmental reports.

Phan Xuân Dũng, chairman of the NA’s Committee of Science, Technology and Environment which is in charge of verifying the amendments, said the draft includes comprehensive regulations on the rights and responsibilities of organisations, households and individuals in environmental activities. The changes also uphold the State's responsibilities in environmental management.

As the law will have profound effects on socio-economic development, he proposed building a set of laws on environmental protection and submitting them for National Assembly discussions at three sessions.

In the morning, lawmakers discussed the number and criteria of NA deputies – one of the most concerning issues mentioned in the draft law on amendments and supplements to the Law on the NA’s Organisation.

According to Hoàng Thanh Tùng, chairman of NA’s Committee of Legal Affairs, some deputies proposed adding more details to the criteria of NA deputies, especially NA specialised deputies at central and local levels.

The draft law proposes raising the number of NA specialised deputies to at least 40 per cent of the total number of NA deputies to improve the NA’s professionalism.

Some proposed among specialised deputies, 5 per cent should be scientists and experts who do not hold any management position.

NA deputy Lê Thanh Vân said the NA should not merely focus on the number of deputies and their legal capacity should be strengthened. — VNS