Expenditures for law-making are insufficient
VietNamNet would like to introduce part 3 of the talks "To not make laws in heaven" with the participation of Prof. Dang Hung Vo, former Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment; Dr. Hoang Ngoc Giao, Director of the Institute for Policy, Law and Development Studies; and Lawyer Nguyen Ngoc Lan, Deputy Director of the Action for Community Development Centre (ACDC). 

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From left: Journalist Hoang Huong, Prof. Dang Hung Vo and Lawyer Nguyen Ngoc Lan

VietNamNet: Through matters such as "policies made in heaven", "policies made in air conditioned rooms" or "those with flat chests are banned from driving motorcycles," some have raised the question whether we are going far away from the law-making philosophy of seeking a contract to keep social order and stability?

Ms. Nguyen Ngoc Lan: In society, relationships change every day, every hour and we run after them, leading to making "patchy" policies. The policy makers all aim for social stability and harmonious development but because the rapid development of social relations, the lifespan of policies is not long. We are always in the vortex of "making a plough in the middle of the way".

VietNamNet: There is an important question: how to have practical policies?

Mr. Hoang Ngoc Giao: "No flour, no paste". If you sit in air-conditioned rooms to draft law according to their experience of subjective thinking and information you have, then it's not social practice.

We should also consider whether the collection of information has practically supported the formulation and analysis of policy. Literally it is not. We have still insisted that consultation and information processing accounts for 50% of the quality of draft laws; the remaining 50% is due to the selection of priority values of different policies.

Furthermore, the funding for lawmaking is very limited, with only a few hundred million VND for making a bill. Citing that they have no specific budget for lawmaking, state officials paid by the state are responsible to make laws. I think this policy is inappropriate.

We must consider law making as socio-economic development projects. Once you make a good law, you can save hundreds of trillions in VND for society. We should not think that lawmaking is just work on paper. A poor law causes losses in terms of costs and social time worth hundreds of trillions of VND. We must have a separate budget for this task.

VietNamNet: People have recently talked about interest groups. Do you know about it, Mr.  Dang Hung Vo?

Prof. Dang Hung Vo: There is always a matter associated with the law: the law can benefit one group and harm other groups. We can never require law makers to build perfect policies and not prefer any group.

So we cannot believe that there is no personal interest in making policy. There is always so-called self-interest in the mind of lawmakers; sometimes it is their family members like father, mother, wife, son or his village, even his district, his province. That is real life.

Therefore, to build law, we need various opinions from different subjects to ensure objectivity and fairness. Objectivity is not standing on anyone's interests, and fairness is creating gains and losses that all groups can accept.

Besides the National Assembly, we need to collect the opinions of social organizations and population groups. 

VietNamNet: This is the question from a reader of VietNamNet – Mr. Pham Huu Dung: I see that the first thing that many policy makers think of is the interest group. For this reason, the Social Insurance Law was amended upon its issuance when it had not become effective yet. How should we do to prevent this situation to happen again in the future? "

Mr. Hoang Ngoc Giao: As I said from the beginning, the policy must be drafted based on analyzing information from a variety of subjects in society. There is a phenomenon that many laws facilitate state agencies rather than creating conditions for people to exercise their rights.

Có khi ra chính sách, đầu lẩn thẩn nghĩ về... vợ

Mr. Hoang Ngoc Giao

There are two types of legal documents: one is through the National Assembly (called laws, ordinances or resolutions of the National Assembly) and legal documents called bylaw documents. The issuance of these kinds of legal documents is different in form, but they both have common legal values.

I also agree that in the current institution of National Assembly deputies, it is very difficult for them to assume the representative role of the voters. For example, you are a young woman, or you belong to youth, but you're a resident in the mountains and a teacher too, so you belong to the intellectual structure. So, for example, when a bill has beneficial effects on womenbut it is unfavorable for the education sector, or the mountainous region, how will you vote? In this case, structural contradiction appears in the representation of this NA deputy. 

Secondly, just a short period of time before National Assembly sessions, NA deputies receive draft bills, which are hundreds of pages each. NA deputies do not have enough time to study these bills. As for meeting voters to get information? NA deputies have to wait for the arrangement of the local Fatherland Front. At all meeting with voters, NA deputies see the same voters so can these people represent all groups of related voters?

In recent years I saw the NA committees try to make field surveys and accept proposals of social organizations to organize workshops and seminars to collect comments on draft bills. In my opinion it is a very good direction! 

VietNamNet: This is a question from reader Pham Truong Son “It seems that the media has 'holes' in writing about policies, for example, the strike of workers on the Labor Code in HCM City. The media did not write about this law during the draft period. Not until the law was issued did workers know that this law had already affected them. How can the press be a bridge for the people and social organizations to contribute to policy? 

Mr. Dang Hung Vo: I think that's the story in the Press Law. Our Press Law has been revised several times. From the question of VietNamNet reader, I think that if it is the law, we must strictly implement the law. Nothing can stand in front of and above the law. If the law says that this issue is not secret, that means the press can talk about it. 

VietNamNet: Do you think that legal issues are too complicated to write about so journalists do not write about them or are there other reasons?

Mr. Dang Hung Vo:
I think journalists are intelligent so it is not true that they don’t understand the law. There are only things that we think they are sensitive to write about. For example, a district official only said "this should not be reported in newspapers". Then journalists did not. 

Mr. Hoang Ngoc Giao: Throughout the lawmaking process, we are proposing regulations on the role of the media. This is not only good for the people but for the State. We need to recognize the role of communication in the lawmaking process. 

Timely reporting about draft policies and laws that are related to the people, through which people can make suggestions to these drafts, is good because in the process of making bills the people already know about the policies so when the laws and policies are approved, they understand them. 

Like making a movie, while it is being shot, a PR campaign is already launched so why doesn't the Government or the authority apply the role of the press in marketing the law? We have proposed to add this to the Law on Issuance of Legal Documents for better policy making and better law enforcement in the future.

To be continued...

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