Vietnam Law & Legal Forum Magazine is your gateway to the law of Vietnam

Official Gazette

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Vietnam’s local administrations during “doi moi” period (1986-now)

Updated: 15:48’ - 22/03/2011

>>Vietnam's local administrations in the 1975-1986 period

Pham Diem
State and Law Research Institute

Together with the economic reform in the cause of comprehensive national “doi moi” (renewal) initiated by the Communist Party of Vietnam in 1986, the reform of the political system embracing the local administrations has been carried out step by step.

Prior to the promulgation of the new Constitution of 1992 – the Constitution of the “doi moi” period - a new law on organization of the People’s Councils and the People’s Committees was promulgated in 1989 in replacement of the old one promulgated in 1983, aiming to initially reform the local administration system.

The 1989 Law has spelt out changes mainly in the organizational structures of the People’s Councils and the People’s Committees, having just overcome a number of limitations of the 1983 Law.

Under the old Law, the People’s Councils depended too much on the People’s Committees as they had been organized without their own standing bodies while the People’s Committees had been structured with the standing bodies which, as a pooh-bah, decided and directed almost all important matters falling under the jurisdiction of the People’s Committees. This ran counter to the principle that the People’s Committees work under the collective regime. Moreover, the People’s Committees under the old law had been organized cumbersomely with too large staff and too many functional bodies.

Yet, under the 1989 Law, the People’s Councils of the provincial and district levels had, for the first time, their own standing bodies while the People’s Committees no longer had their standing bodies as well as their secretaries, but each was composed only of the president, one or several vice-presidents and other members. In the People’s Committees, specific tasks were assigned among members and the number of functional bodies dropped, thus helping to increase dynamism and alertness of the presidents, vice-presidents and other members of the People’s Committee members, while cutting red tape. The number of People’s Committees also reduced to between 11 and 17 for the provincial level, between 9 and 13 for the district level, and between 7 and 9 for the commune level.

The promulgation of a new Constitution in 1992 has created the basic legal basis for the reform of the organization and operation of the State apparatus in Vietnam, including the local administrations. In order to concretize the new Constitution, a new law on the organization of the People’s Councils and the People’s Committees was promulgated in 1994, under which the People’s Councils remain to be the State power organs in localities, which represent the local people’s will, aspirations and mastery, are elected by the local people and answerable to the local people and the superior State bodies for all affairs in their respective localities; and the People’s Committees are elected by the People’s Councils of the same levels, acting as the executive bodies of the People’s Councils and the State administrative agencies in localities.

The People’s Councils and the People’s Committees are established in all local administrative units, including:

- The provinces and centrally-run cities.

- The rural and urban districts, provincial capitals and towns.

- The communes, wards and district towns.

Under the 1994 Law, the People’s Councils at the provincial and district levels are still organized with their standing boards, each comprising the chairman and vice-chairmen, but without the People’s Council secretaries like under the 1989 Law. At the commune level, a People’s Council has the chairman, vice-chairmen and members, but not the standing boards like at the provincial and district levels.

Particularly, the 1994 Law provides that the chairmen and vice-chairmen of the People’s Councils at all levels must not be concurrently members of the People’s Committees at the same levels. While the 1989 Law just stopped short at stipulating generally that the People’s Councils at the provincial and district levels might set up boards to assist the People’s Councils but without clearly identifying which boards they were, the 1994 Law specifies the following boards:

- For the provincial-level People’s Councils: There are three boards: The Board for Economic and Budgetary Affairs, the Board for Cultural and Social Affairs and the Legal Board. In localities where live various ethnic groups, the Board for Ethnic Affairs may be set up.

- For the district-level People’s Councils: There are two boards: The Board for Economic and Social Affairs and the Legal Board.

Meanwhile, the People’s Councils at the commune level were organized with the secretariats under the 1989 Law, and without any boards under the 1994 Law.

Regarding the People’s Committees, the 1994 Law provides that a People’s Committee is composed of the president, vice-presidents and members, who are all elected by the People’s Councils at the same levels. Noteworthy is that the People’s Committee presidents must be deputies of the People’s Councils at the same levels while other members of the People’s Committees may not necessarily be the People’s Council deputies. Moreover, the numbers of members of the People’s Committees at various levels in the 1994 Law have continued to shrink as compared to those prescribed in the 1989 Law:

- A provincial-level People’s Committee has 9 or 11 members. Such number for the People’s Committees of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City must not exceed 13.

- A district-level People’s Committee has 7 or 9 members.

- A commune-level People’s Committee has 5 or 7 members.

For the first time, the tasks and powers of the local administration at each level have been clearly determined in the National Assembly Standing Committee’s 1996 Ordinance on specific tasks and powers of the People’s Councils and the People’s Committees at the same levels. Under this Ordinance, the legal status and powers of local administrations from the central to district and commune levels are initially determined with clear distinction which are seen in the tasks and powers between the urban administrations and non-urban administrations, thus conforming to the process of national renewal with the switch to the market economy and the fast and complicated urbanization in Vietnam. Concretely, the Ordinance has distinguished the powers of the municipal People’s Councils from those of the provincial People’s Councils; the powers of the People’s Councils of the provincial capitals and towns from those of the district People’s Councils; and the powers of the People’s Councils of the district townships and wards from those of the commune People’s Councils. For instance, under Article 13 of the Ordinance, apart from the general powers of the provincial/municipal People’s Councils, the urban People’s Councils also have the power:

- To decide on measures to promote the role of big cities as economic and social centers in their relations with localities in the regions and the whole country as decentralized by the Government.

- To adopt plans on the construction of urban infrastructure, overall plannings on urban construction and development and submit them to the Government for approval.

- To decide on measures to maintain public order and traffic as well as to protect the environment and landscapes.

- To decide on measures to manage urban population and organize urban life.

According to Article 29 of the Ordinance, the municipal People’s Committees, apart from the general tasks and powers, have the following ones:

- To organize the application of measures to bring into full play the role of big cities as economic and social centers in their relations with localities in the areas, regions and the whole country as decentralized by the Government.

- To direct and organize the implementation of plans on construction of urban infrastructure, draw up overall plannings on urban construction, and submit them to the People’s Councils of the same level for adoption before they are submitted to the Government for approval.

- To materialize policies and measures to create financial sources, to mobilize capital for urban development, to build and uniformly manage technical urban infrastructure under the provisions of law.

- To directly manage urban land, the use of capital from the urban land fund in service of the construction of technical urban infrastructure under the provisions of law.

- To manage urban houses, the house dealing, to use capital from State-owned residential houses in cities for housing development in urban centers, to inspect the observance of legislation on house construction in urban centers.

- To guide and arrange the networks of urban trade and services.

- To work out plans and measures for employment, for social vices prevention and combat in urban centers under the provisions of law.

- To organize and direct the application of measures for management of urban population and organization of urban people’s life.

- To organize and direct the implementation of tasks of ensuring public order as well as traffic, and protecting urban environment and views.

So, the Ordinance proves to be a big step of development though it has stopped short at concretizing the powers for each level of the local administration while failing to specify the organizational structure and operation mode of the local administration at each level.

Though being just at the initial stage, the “doi moi” cause has seen more legislation (with two laws and one ordinance) on the local administrations than the previous periods, with many new regulations, which have laid legal bases for the initial renewal of the local administration system.

One of the prevailing trends in recent years is the division and separation of provinces into small ones with the total of 57 provinces and 4 centrally-run cities throughout the country now.

In the administration system, the grassroots administrations in communes, wards and district townships play an extremely important position, where the ties between the State and people are directly settled and where the State’s undertakings, policies and laws are materialized. Therefore, the role and position of the grassroots administrations have been fully understood and more importance has been attached to this level of local administrations which have been constantly strengthened in many aspects, including their material bases, the contingents of their employees who have been better trained and fostered professionally. To promote the people’s mastery in discussing and deciding on local matters and supervising the activities of administrations and public servants in localities and to substantially reform the organization of the grassroots administrations, the Government issued in 1998 the Regulation on promotion of democracy in communes.

In sum, over nearly 20 years of “doi moi” now, the system of local administrations in Vietnam has witnessed important steps of development in their organization, operation mode, operational efficiency and effectiveness in a circumstance when the country is moving from the highly centralized economy to the market economy. However, shortcomings and weaknesses have been revealed in their organization and operation, which have proved less effective, less efficient, and bureaucratic. For this reason, the State has advocated to further reform the local administrations, aiming to make them operate with higher efficiency and efficiency and become ones really of the people, by the people and for the people.-

VNL_KH1 

Send Us Your Comments:

See also:

Video

Vietnam Law & Legal Forum