National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ. — VNA/VNS Photo Thống Nhất
In the exuberant atmosphere of the new Year of the Tiger 2022, Politburo member and National Assembly Chairman Vương Đình Huệ spoke with the local press on parliamentary activities in the first year of the 15th-tenure and its priorities for 2022.
The year 2021 saw unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. What were you most impressed by?
The COVID-19 pandemic health crisis has led to economic and social crises for the entire world, including Việt Nam. Thanks to the political determination and the buy-in of the people and business community, we successfully overcame three waves of infections in 2020, achieving great accomplishments, becoming one of the few countries with positive growth.
But in 2021, the pandemic turned for the worse, and the fourth wave characterised by the much more contagious Delta variant from late April penetrated deeply into major economic centres, urban areas, industrial parks, devastating production and economic activities and people’s livelihoods.
Against this backdrop, the entire Party, people and armed forces have upheld the spirit of unity, forming strength in pandemic prevention and control efforts.
Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee – especially the Politburo and the Secretariat – the National Assembly (NA) and its Standing Committee have made timely decisions on pandemic control, socio-economic recovery, and maintenance of social welfare. The central Government and local administrations have simultaneously carried out measures to pursue the dual goals of pandemic control and socio-economic development.
With consensus and support from the public, we have now gradually switched to the strategy of safe, flexible adaptation and effective control of COVID-19.
The first highlight of the year for me is the successful holding of the XIII National Party Congress earlier in 2021 while COVID-19 was still a problem in many localities.
The successes of the congress motivated the Party and the people to surmount hardship and realise the vision of transforming Việt Nam into a developed, high-income socialist nation.
Then in May, we successfully organised the Elections of deputies to the 15th-tenure NA and People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021-26 tenure. Despite the outbreaks, 70 million eligible voters in the country came to the polls to cast their votes, electing 499 lawmakers to the parliament and sufficient deputies to the local people’s councils.
Not only was it the largest in scale, but the election was the most profound demonstration of the spirit of solidarity, creativity, people’s pride and confidence in the Party and State, the NA and People’s Councils.
As I said on election day on May 23, 2021: “The election has once again shown the unrelenting power of the people.”
After the election, the COVID-19 outbreaks didn’t subside, but thanks to proper preparations, the NA managed to organise two first sittings of the new tenure.
In the first sitting, the parliament reviewed, decided, voted, and approved the high-level leaders of the State, with high consensus achieved. This was also the first time the parliament decided on the five-year master plan in its first sitting, which enabled the Government to implement the Resolution of the XIII National Party Congress.
Second, Việt Nam has achieved several socio-economic feats in 2021 – with macroeconomic foundation stabilised, inflation well under control, State budget collection hitting targets, State deficit well within the estimate (4 per cent of the GDP). The world’s leading corporations and businesses still see Việt Nam as an attractive investment destination.
The work of building and improving the law continued. Political security, social order and safety were maintained. National defence and security were upheld as foreign affairs were carried out comprehensively, flexibly, and effectively, which contributed to a peaceful, stable and favourable environment for development; enhanced cooperation between Việt Nam and international partners; and elevated the country’s position internationally.
The third highlight for me was the coordination between the Party and State agencies, the Việt Nam Fatherland Front, and socio-political organisations have been sustained and improved, creating social consensus on policies.
In 2021, what National Assembly activities do you consider the biggest highlights?
To truly rise to the confidence of the people, the parliament handled an intense workload of national importance, accompanying the Government in resolving urgent issues in pandemic control and socio-economic recovery, as well as formulating the legal framework for the country’s development in the long term.
The first highlight of parliamentary activity in 2021 was the early completion of the NA’s Action Plan to Implement XIII National Party Congress Resolution, laying out 107 projects, tasks and priorities for the 15th-tenure legislation, oversight, decision-making, diplomacy, meetings, improving meetings with the constituents, and strengthening legislators.
Second, on making decisions regarding important issues. During the first two sessions, the 15th-tenure NA completed the leadership personnel matters and decided on a system of five-year plans for 2021-25, including a socio-economic development plan; national financial plan, borrowing and public debt payment; medium-term public investment plan; investment policy in the National Target Programme on New Rural Development and the National Target Programme on Sustainable Poverty Reduction; economic restructuring plan; national land-use planning period; and approving the parliamentary oversight agenda and the Law and Ordinance Development Programme in 2022.
Notably, during the first sitting of the new tenure, the NA Standing Committee worked with the Government to timely submit the drafting of Resolution 30/2021/QH15, which provided robust, unprecedented measures, creating a legal basis for the Government and localities to be more flexible in COVID-19 efforts – a move that received wide public support. Since then, the committee has issued seven resolutions addressing urgent legal issues on the pandemic fight.
Third, on legislation, with the preparations of the NA Party Committee, the Politburo, for the first time, issued Conclusion 19/KL-TW on the law-making programme of the 15th-tenure NA, with a focus on institution building for sustainable economic, social, cultural, environment development. The conclusion of the Politburo and the law-making programme developed by the NA Party Committee formed an important foundation for the NA to be more proactive in exercising legislative power.
NA units also expanded the spirit of democracy in legislation building, holding consultations and conferences to collect feedback and proposals from experts and groups of people affected by the legislation.
The NA Standing Committee focused on tightening legislative discipline – members were willing to work overtime, overnight even, to discuss the draft law projects, but they also rejected draft law projects considered sub-par. The results of these efforts have been shown in the improved quality of the five laws that the NA discussed and the two law projects it adopted in the second sitting.
Fourth, with regards to oversight, the NA decided right at first sitting its two focal themes – the implementation of policies and laws on planning since the Law of Planning took effect, and the implementation of policies and law on anti-waste in 2016-21 – and tasked the NA Standing Committee with oversight activities related to the organisation of rural district- and commune-level administrative units in 2019-21, and the meeting with citizens and handling complaints and denunciations between July 1, 2016, and July 1, 2021.
The first Question and Answer session for cabinet members was also handled well, with the focus on a prolonged argument time to go into more details.
Fifth, with regards to diplomatic activities, overcoming the pandemic challenges, parliamentary bilateral and multilateral activities still took place – both virtually and in-person, to deepen the parliamentary ties with other countries, participate more in multilateral forums, to contribute to the formulation of the common playbook, and assert Việt Nam as a responsible member of the international community, and elevate the country’s profile internationally.
The NA had robustly pursued vaccine diplomacy to urge vaccine manufacturers and countries to give priority to global measures such as sharing and transferring production technology to increase global output.
The sixth highlight of the year was the NA Party Committee implementing the four topics developed and assigned to us by the Central Steering Committee for the project "Strategy to build and perfect a Socialist rule of law in Việt Nam to 2030, with orientation to 2045” – including the strategy perfecting the legal system and law enforcement by 2030; improving coordination and oversight between State agencies in the exercise of judicial rights and between agencies and organisations in the judicial council; improving the organisation and operational efficiency of the National Assembly; and upholding the Constitution.
The NA Party Committee has completed three topics and is one of the earliest agencies to complete the assigned task, which is appreciated by the Party Central Committee.
It is expected that in October 2022, the project will be submitted by the Politburo to the Party Central Committee for consideration.
These highlights show that the NA has begun its new tenure with myriad challenges and great pressures, with the motto “proactiveness, wisdom, unity, innovation and responsibility,” we have the right to be proud of the things we have done, by putting the national interest and the people’s interests first and foremost.
One of the three ‘strategic breakthroughs’ during the 13th National Party Congress was on institutional enhancements. How will the NA set out to realise this?
Institution building has been a priority measure since the 11th National Party Congress and is set to be a key focus for 2021-30.
The lawmaking programme in the 15th-tenure, developed by the NA Party Committee and approved by the Politburo, sets out 137 legislative tasks related to institution building needed to facilitate the accomplishment of socio-economic development goals in 2021-25.
One priority is to institutionalise the policies set out in the 13th National Party Congress, to help make for a transparent, stable, timely, consistent and internationally competitive legal system – one that puts the legitimate rights of people and businesses at the centre, increases oversight of State power, promotes robust innovation to serve national development, industrialisation and modernisation, as well as fast and sustainable growth.
The legislation works in the tenure will ensure the betterment of the legal system stays under the close leadership from the Party; protection and respecting of human rights, civil rights, and democracy, justice, social order and discipline; fully establish the legal relations between the State and citizens; promote social critique and people’s oversight over State power; create a breakthrough to shift the ‘management mindset’ to a ‘developmental, facilitating mindset.’
The work will also ensure the true participation of the people as well as scientists and experts during the law-making processes; avoid influences of deviant, wayward ideas and opinions; make sure foreign affairs activities are conducted extensively, and enable conditions to promptly adapt to rapid changes in international integration.
The legislation work must be meticulous and cautious, to ensure quality trumps quantity.
The pandemic continues to be complex, most recently with the Omicron variant. What should we do in response?
After two years, most countries now live with the virus in a flexible, safe adaptation spirit, to maintain socio-economic development.
Việt Nam has also had three months since the switch to an adaptation strategy, and the reality shows that we are going in the right direction, and the socio-economic goals that the NA has set out are achievable.
Việt Nam is enjoying a very high vaccination rate and is trying to expand coverage to more age groups; many localities have already commenced booster shot campaigns, and public adherence to prevention measures is growing.
In addition to the will to invest more into local-level preventive medicine capacity, and the commitment to lockdowns at the smallest scale possible, these measures and conditions will be the strong basis for flexible, safe adaptation to COVID-19.
But we must not let our guard down. To avoid unnecessary economic and social crises and protect public health, first, the Government needs to enhance its forecast ability to strengthen its pandemic response and look at all scenarios to avoid being taken by surprise by situations that might be much more complicated than before.
Second, to overcome problems of inconsistency in the adaptation strategy, we should improve policies on mobilising, allocating and using resources for pandemic response in a transparent and corruption-proof way.
Third, to promote the public-private partnerships in the COVID-19 fight, we must invest more into local healthcare facilities, not only for COVID-19 but also for other diseases.
Fourthly, we must analyse and forecast the advantages, risks and challenges and propose practical solutions and recommendations for supplementing and perfecting the solutions and tasks set out in the Resolutions of the 3rd and 4th plenums of the Party Central Committee (XIII tenure), taking into account the impact of the pandemic, integrated into the five-year master plans and the economic restructuring plan for 2021-25.
Fifth, we should urgently develop a plan to carry out socio-economic development and recovery programme, with a focus on creating a new driver of growth in line with world trends.
Sixth, the Government should flexibly deploy and coordinate monetary and fiscal tools to maintain macroeconomic stability, contribute to promoting production and business, supporting people and businesses, and recovery efforts. Fiscal support packages should be built and submitted to the NA for approval.
What are the priorities for the National Assembly in 2022?
With COVID-19 still a major challenge, the National Assembly, which is a manifestation of great national unity, must make efforts to realise its Constitution-given responsibilities.
Special circumstances call for special responses. Right at the beginning of 2021, the NA held its first-ever extraordinary session on urgent measures that have a direct impact on the country’s development efforts in the new normal – including the draft Resolution on fiscal and monetary policies, and the investment policy of the eastern section of the North-South expressway for 2021-25. I hope that this extraordinary session will set a precedent for the NA to act more flexibly to the on-the-ground situation.
The NA and the NA Standing Committee will more closely accompany the Government and State agencies to consider and decide on issues within our jurisdiction, creating an effective and legal system to implement the 2022 goals and plans on safe, flexible adaptation and effective control of COVID-19, and maximum protection of people’s health and life.
They will also focus on removing difficulties for production and business, providing support for people and businesses; taking advantage of every opportunity for socio-economic recovery and maintaining growth in the long term; persistently maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving the autonomy, resilience and adaptability of the economy; continuing to give priority to perfecting development institutions and improving law enforcement, building an orderly, disciplined, safe, healthy, democratic, just and civilised society; focusing on cultural development, ensuring social security and constantly improving people’s lives.
We will also strive to improve the efficiency of foreign affairs, contributing to the maintenance of a peaceful and stable environment for the country’s development, and enhancing Việt Nam’s position and prestige in the international arena.
Along with that, the NA and the NA Standing Committee will focus on implementing four oversight themes to create fundamental changes in respective fields, especially in planning, thrift and waste prevention. When we can fundamentally solve the past problems, shortcomings and limitations, it will open up a huge amount of development resources for the country.
The NA Standing Committee and other agencies will also step up supervision of the legal documents to ensure the law is implemented properly.
Ahead of Tết, what do you wish to say to the Vietnamese people?
2021 was a year of great difficulties and turmoil. I want to send my deepest sympathies to the immense losses of both properties and human lives and all the hardship people had to suffer, and send my best gratitude to the people at the frontline, especially the medical workers and armed forces, who have sacrificed so much.
On behalf of the leaders of the NA, I commend and appreciate the Government’s efforts, leadership and drastic administration; appreciate and thank the great contributions and noble deeds of compatriots, officers, soldiers and the business community, along with the effective assistance of Vietnamese people abroad and international friends in the pandemic fight.
What we have achieved in 2021 will be an important basis for the country to move forward.
I believe that with Party leadership, unity and consensus of the people, and the engagement of the entire political system and support of international friends, Việt Nam will prevail over the pandemic, protect people’s health and attain socio-economic recovery.
While the authorities work to firm up major policies for socio-economic development based on the resolutions of the Party Central Committee, Politburo, NA, and Government, I trust the people and business community to grasp all opportunities available to recover and restructure production and business to get the country back on the track of sustainable development.— VNS