Ministry expounds new planning law
The controversial draft planning law, a law pertaining to many industries and sectors, is expected to be tabled to the National Assembly for passage at its upcoming session in May.

The controversial draft planning law, a law pertaining to many industries and sectors, is expected to be tabled to the National Assembly for passage at its upcoming session in May.

The latest draft of the law, which consists of six chapters with 69 articles and two appendices, has paid heed to opinions of concerned ministries, especially opinions of the Ministry of Construction on construction planning, said officials from the Ministry of Planning and Investment (MPI).

According to the MPI, the drafting agency, the law establishes a new system of national master plans and fundamental principles for planning work and defines tasks and powers of state authorities in planning activities. It also specifies the process of formulating, appraising, approving, and adjusting master plans, implementing, and supervising the implementation of, master plans.

Fishing ships moor at Tho Quang dock in a fish harbor in Son Tra district, Da Nang city__Photo: Dinh Van Nhieu/VNA

The draft paper defines planning as the arrangement and allocation of space for economic, cultural, defense, security and environmental activities in an identified area aiming to effectively utilize resources to reach sustainable development goals set by the State in a given period of time.

Worthy of note, the draft law sets down seven planning principles. Accordingly, planning activities must comply with Vietnamese law as well as treaties which Vietnam has acceded to while ensuring consistency between master plans and socio-economic development strategies and plans, the continuity and stability of the system of master plans, as well as the scientificness, forecastabilty, feasibility, objectivity, publicity and transparency of master plans. The Law also requires the participation of stakeholders, effective use of resources, and unified state management of planning activities.

Under the draft law, a planning period would last 10 years, coinciding with the period of the corresponding socio-economic development strategy, with a vision of 20-50 years. Master plans would be reviewed once every five years and adjusted to suit practical conditions.

According to MPI officials, the draft planning law introduces four key changes.

Firstly, it abolishes master plans for specific industries and products. This move, according to Deputy Minister of Planning and Investment Dang Huy Dong, can be considered the most important content of the draft law.

“At the present time, master plans such as those prescribing how many tons of tra catfish will be produced or how many hectares of water surface will be reserved for shrimp farming are no longer appropriate. These decisions should rather be made based on market demand. It is not to mention the fact that such type of master plans likely give rise to the ask-and-give mechanism,” Dong said.

“If seeing that a specific industry needs to be developed or a sector needs to be managed, state authorities may formulate development schemes or devise criteria or conditions for management or licensing and make public these schemes, criteria and conditions,” Dong said, adding that this would help businesses understand what to do if they wish to invest in a certain sector.

“It is important that the State should provide market information and give recommendations to investors and businesses,” Dong stressed.

As proposed by the MPI, state agencies would be empowered to formulate only 21 specific types of master plans such as master plans for the national road and riverway systems, master plan on the seaport system, master plan on tourist infrastructure, etc.

“Master plans would be formulated only for industries and sectors using limited resources such as land and natural resources with a view to making the most efficient use of these resources,” Dong noted.

Secondly, the draft law attempts to ensure consistency in the legal system governing planning activities.

The current system of master plans consists of overall socio-economic development master plan; construction master plan; land and natural resources and minerals use and environmental protection master plan.

The draft law now restructures this system into five levels, including national, regional and provincial master plans, master plans of urban and rural areas, and master plans of special administrative-economic units. National master plans are also divided into four types, namely overall master plan, sea space master plan, land-use master plan and sectoral master plan.

Regarding the relationship among master plans of different levels and types, the draft law says that the national-level overall master plan would serve as a basis for formulation of all other master plans nationwide. National-level sectoral master plans must conform with the national-level overall master plan, sea space master plans and land-use master plans. Regional master plans must accord with all national master plans. Provincial master plans must tally with national and regional master plans. Meanwhile, master plans of urban and rural areas must follow national, regional and provincial master plans. In case a regional or provincial master plan is detected to be contradictory to the national-level sectoral master plan, it would be adjusted to suit the national-level sectoral and overall master plans. In case two regional or provincial master plans are inconsistent with each other, they would both be adjusted based on national-level master plans.

Hau Giang province’s delegation of National Assembly deputies collects opinions on the draft Planning Law__Photo: VNA

Thirdly, the draft law lays a legal foundation for unified direction and management of planning activities.

To this end, the draft law devises a process of formulation, appraisal, approval, adjustment and implementation which would be applied to master plans of all types. It also urges coordination among ministries and sectors in the formulation of national-level overall master plans, national-level sectoral master plans, regional master plans and provincial master plans.

The draft law says each national, regional or provincial master plans must be appraised by an appraisal body formed by the Prime Minister, for national and regional master plan, or by the Ministry of Planning Investment, for provincial master plans. During an appraisal, the appraisal body would seek opinions from relevant professional organizations and associations and independent experts.

Lastly, the draft law changes the planning method following an integrated and multi-sectoral approach, which is expected to help effectively address inter-sectoral, inter-regional and inter-provincial issues, especially conflicts of interests among sectors and localities. It says that master plans of urban and rural areas would be integrated into the national-level overall master plan. Meanwhile, construction master plans for inter-regional areas and master plans for national-level functional zones would be integrated into regional master plans.

At the recent meeting of the National Assembly Standing Committee, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung said a total of 32 current laws are to be amended once the Planning Law is passed, of which only four need to be ovehauled while the rest need small changes. Therefore, the MPI suggested promulgating an omnibus law to amend 178 articles and clauses of the 28 laws concurrently with the Planning Law. The other laws could be revised one after another to ensure enforcement of the Planning Law in early 2019.- (VLLF)

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