NA Standing Committee discusses gender affirmation law, State budget settlement
The Law on Gender Affirmation, which is expected to be included in the 2024 legislation program, was formerly known as the Law on Gender Identity.

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The Standing Committee of the National Assembly (NA) on May 12 continues their 23rd meeting session, discussing the gender affirmation law and 2021 State budget settlement.

The Law on Gender Affirmation, which is expected to be included in the 2024 law making program, was formerly known as the Law on Gender Identity.

The revised draft has reduced the scope of regulation and subjects and clarified the political and legal grounds, with adjustments in conditions, processes and procedures for gender affirmation.

Presenting the report, NA deputy Nguyen Anh Tri said the document also changes to allow for gender affirmation only once in a person’s lifetime, instead of twice in the previous draft.

It also states that medical intervention is required for the change, the scope of which is also reduced to male and female.

A regulation is also added to recognize cases who have undergone medical procedures before the gender affirmation law comes into effect.

The NA justice committee agrees with the four major policies in the proposal, adding that the NA deputy’s suggestions are based on the health ministry’s research and recommendation, with a logical arrangement.

However, the committee recommends adding the case of “re-affirming an individual’s gender” as stated in Article 36 of the Civil Code and clarifying the extent of medical intervention required for gender affirmation.

NA secretary general Bui Van Cuong added that consultation with medical and legal experts is needed regarding the requirement of medical intervention and the conditions for these procedures.

A review of related legal documents should also be conducted for necessary adjustments before the law comes into effect.

Responding to the concerns, NA deputy Tri said that the surgery-required gender affirmation is an outdated view that no longer fits the current context. He added that the change depends on self-perception, as gender is closely linked to genes and hormones.

He also acknowledged opinions from the NA Standing Committee and the research dossier transferred from the health ministry during eight years of the drafting process.

Concluding the meeting, deputy NA chairman Nguyen Khac Dinh said that the NA Standing Committee agrees on the necessity to develop the gender affirmation law, to implement Article 37 of the Civil Code.

The majority of the committee also agrees to submit the document to the NA for a decision on including this legal project in the upcoming lawmaking program.

Dinh added that if this project is approved for the program, the law is expected to be presented at the NA’s eighth session and approved in the ninth.

2021 State budget

In the discussion regarding the 2021 State budget, finance minister Ho Duc Phoc said that despite the pandemic, socio-economic challenges and natural disasters, financial policies in 2021 were promptly and comprehensively implemented.

Minister of Finance Ho Duc Phoc speaks at a discussion meeting of the NA Standing Committee's 23rd session__Photo: VNA

Economic activities started recovering from the end of Q3 2021 and saw positive developments. The State budget revenue increased by 17.2 percent, while domestic revenue rose by 15.9 percent compared to estimates.

In 2021, the government also allowed tax exemptions, reductions and budget collection, helping businesses and people overcome challenges and resume production-trade activities.

The finance minister added that the investment for the central budget development decreased by 13.5 percent compared to the estimates, mainly due to the impacts of COVID-19, challenges in official development assistance (ODA) projects, importing equipment, receiving foreign experts, and prolonged dossier approval procedures.

The government has directed ministries, departments and localities to accelerate the process of public investment disbursement and implementation.

Regarding audits, State auditor general Ngo Van Tuan said that as of December 31, 2022, relevant departments had resolved recommendations to increase State budget collection and reduce expenditures, with a completion rate of 88.57 per cent. For other proposals, this figure is 80.08 percent.

A total of 270 legal documents not aligned with the laws and current context were also adjusted, amended or removed.

Out of 95 audit reports that asked for a review of collective and individual responsibilities, 57 were resolved.

The State Audit proposed the government and Prime Minister to direct the finance ministry, central agencies, localities and auditors to fully and promptly implement audit conclusions and recommendations.

The finance ministry will also review and report to the government, the NA and its Standing Committee on several expenditures transferred from other sources approved by local People’s Councils.

Deputy chairwoman of the NA Committee on Finance-Budget Nguyen Thi Phu Ha said that these achievements during the time of COVID-19 show the significant efforts of the entire political system as well as businesses and people.

She noted that regarding State budget settlements in 2020 and earlier, many State Audit conclusions and recommendations still have not been resolved. The government needs to direct relevant units to draw lessons and clarify responsibilities in the 2021 settlement.

Chairperson of the NA economy committee, Vu Hong Thanh, added that the finance ministry needs to work with the NA finance-budget committee to consolidate the data.

In the session conclusion, deputy NA chairman Nguyen Duc Hai praised the government’s efforts, especially during the severe impacts of COVID-19.

He said that the NA Standing Committee agreed with the report presented. However, the settlement period needs to be improved.

The deputy NA chairman added that proper assessments of the yearly budget are required for an accurate viewpoint.

The context is different each year, therefore, the reports must reflect the situation and propose prompt solutions to address the issues, such as legal document adjustment, leaders’ responsibilities, and resolving auditors’ recommendations.- (VNS/VLLF)

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