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NA deputies give voters a voice on national agenda

National Assembly deputies heard the expectations and proposals of voters nationwide yesterday about issues to be discussed at the sixth session of the 13th National Assembly (NA).

The issues that drew the most public attention were the draft amendments to the 1992 Constitution, the revised Land Law and improving people’s living standards – especially those recently hit hard by storms.

Voters also expressed concern over food safety, environmental protection, transportation, corruption and waste.

Nguyen Thien Nhan, President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee, said the 1992 Constitution was considered the most important legislative document in the country, as it stipulated the nation’s position on key issues including people’s right to freedom, fundamental principles of the regime and the State’s organisational structure and operational mechanisms.

Related to the land issue, Nhan said voters proposed NA and government agencies issue tight regulations to ensure the legitimate rights of land users and harmonise people’s interests and rights to avoid disputes.

Disputes over land use are among the biggest issues for the amendments to resolve. About 70 per cent of petitions and complaints are related to land use. Half the administrative decisions on land issues have led to prolonged disputes.

Nhan said that despite the country’s achievements in socio-economic development, voters reported facing many difficulties in daily life. Farmers, ethnic people and those living in remote areas still had very low incomes.

Farmers asked the NA and government to work out efficient policies to support them, such as informing them about markets and prices in a timely fashion so that they could create suitable production plans.

They also asked for strengthened inspections and stricter punishments for fake fertiliser and pesticide producers, as well as infrastructure improvements in rural areas and policies to encourage farmers not to leave their land.

After the central region was hit hard by the recent storms, people asked the government to instruct ministries to pay more attention to forest protection, irrigation works and flood prevention.

They hoped agencies would take full responsibility for ensuring the safety of reservoirs and hydro-power dams to help people avoid property losses caused by floods.

Nhan said the irresponsibility of hospital leaders and relevant authorities had led to serious violations, such as the multiplication of blood test results at Hanoi’s Hoai Duc general Hospital.

Therefore, people urged the government to tighten management of hospitals and healthcare centres, improve the medical ethics of health staff and better manage drug prices.

Voters also expressed hope that NA deputies would be fully committed to preventing wastefulness and combating corruption, Nhan said.

Public administration plays a key role in fighting corruption, he added, saying the difficult battle against wastefulness and corruption required joint efforts from all citizens, particularly those holding key leadership positions.

Voters asked for corruption investigations and trials to continue.

Progress report

Also yesterday, PM Nguyen Tan Dung delivered a government report on the socio-economic situation of the country since the beginning of the year, the implementation of the 2011-15 socio-economic development plan and the targets set for 2014-15.

In the report, Dung said the government had made great efforts to meet or surpass 11 out of 15 key socio-economic development targets for 2013.

Export earnings are expected to post a year-on-year increase of 14.4 per cent against the 10 per cent plan; the import surplus to total trade ratio is forecast at 0.4 per cent, far below the 8 per cent set level.

The country nearly reached its national gross domestic product (GDP) and job creation targets. GDP is forecast to grow by 5.4 per cent by the year’s end, close to the 5.5 per cent target. The nation has created approximately 1.54 million jobs, 60,000 less than planned.

The budget deficit to GDP ratio (5.3 per cent) and social development investment to GDP ratio (29.1 per cent) also failed to meet the set targets (4.8 per cent and 30 per cent respectively).

More details about the socio-economic situation and development plans will be discussed by NA deputies on Thursday.

Draft laws

Discussing the draft law on employment, lawmakers focused on the granting of occupational skill certificates and unemployment insurance policies.

Deputy Le Trong Sang from HCM City and deputy Nguyen Ngoc Phuong from central Quang Binh Province agreed that granting national occupational certificates was necessary to “improve the quality of labourers”.

However, they said, the draft law should contain specific regulations on how the certificates would be granted.

For instance, Phuong said, craftsmen should be encouraged to take part in vocational training so that traditional jobs could be preserved, but their lack of official qualifications prevented them from becoming teachers. So a regulation about this matter should be added to the draft law.

Some deputies said civil servants should not have to take part in unemployment insurance, as it was not easy for them to lose their jobs.

However, NA deputy chairwoman Tong Thi Phong said Article 2 of the Law on Civil Servants regulated that civil servants had to pay unemployment insurance.

Civil servants currently account for 21.4 per cent of total insurance payers.

Lawmakers did not reach consensus on encouraging labourers with seasonal jobs or jobs lasting at least 3-12 months to join this insurance.

Some deputies doubted the feasibility of the regulation, while others argued that the inclusion of the regulation in the draft law would help ensure income for those at high risk of being unemployed.

Female recognition

Also yesterday, PM Dung met with female NA deputies on the occasion of the 83rd anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnam Women’s Union.

During the meeting, the PM hailed the deputies for listening to voters’ feedback and contributing valuable opinions at NA meetings.

“The female lawmakers have also spoken with female voters throughout the country so their opinions can be reflected in both lawmaking and law enforcement, especially when it comes to gender equality and Vietnamese women’s advancement,” he said.

Dung also praised the Vietnam Female Parliamentarians Group, saying that the group had created a forum for female MPs to discuss ways to emphasize gender equality in the legislative process.

He noted efforts by the National Committee for the Advancement of Women in Vietnam, the Ministry of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs and the Vietnam Women’s Union to advise the government about building gender-related policies.

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