In the exuberant atmosphere of the New Year of the Tiger 2022, Politburo member and National Assembly Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue spoke with the local press on parliamentary activities in the first year of the 15th tenure and its priorities for 2022.
The year 2021 saw unprecedented challenges due to the pandemic. What were you most impressed by?
The health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has led to economic and social crises for the entire world, including Vietnam. Thanks to the political determination and the efforts of the people and business community, we had successfully overcome three waves of infections in 2020, achieving great accomplishments, becoming one of the few countries with positive growth.
But in 2021, the pandemic turned for the worse, and the fourth wave characterized by the much more contagious Delta variant from late April penetrated deeply into major economic centers, urban areas, industrial parks, devastating production and economic activities and people’s livelihood.
Against this backdrop, the entire Party, people and army have upheld the spirit of unity and mutual help, forming the concerted strength in pandemic prevention and control efforts.
Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee - especially the Politburo and the Secretariat, the National Assembly (NA) and its Standing Committee have timely issued decisions on pandemic control, socio-economic recovery, and social welfare maintenance. The Central Government and local administrations have simultaneously carried out measures to pursue the dual goals of pandemic control and socio-economic development. With consensus and support from the public, we have now gradually switched to the strategy of safe, flexible adaptation and effective control of COVID-19.
The first highlight of the year for me is the successful organization of the XIIIth National Party Congress earlier in 2021 while COVID-19 was still a problem in many localities.
The successes of the Congress motivated the Party and the people to surmount hardship and realize the vision of transforming Vietnam into a developed, high-income socialist nation.
Then in May, we successfully organized the Elections of deputies to the 15th NA and People’s Councils at all levels for the 2021-26 tenure. Despite the pandemic outbreaks, nearly 70 million eligible voters across the country came to the polls to cast their votes, electing 499 lawmakers to the Parliament and sufficient deputies to the local People’s Councils.
Not only was it the largest in scale, but the election was the most profound demonstration of the spirit of solidarity, creativity, people’s pride and confidence in the Party and the State, the Legislature and People’s Councils.
As I said on the election day on May 23, 2021: “The election has once again shown the unrelenting power of the people.”
After the election, the COVID-19 outbreaks didn’t subside, but thanks to proper preparations, the NA managed to organize two first sittings of the new tenure.
In the first sitting, the Parliament reviewed, decided, voted, and approved the high-ranking leaders of the State, with high consensus achieved. This was also the first time the Legislature decided on the five-year plans in its first session, which enabled the Government as well as local authorities to implement the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress and Resolutions of the NA.
Secondly, Vietnam has achieved several socio-economic feats in 2021 - with macroeconomic stability maintained, inflation kept under control, state budget revenues hitting the set targets, state budget deficit within the estimate (4 percent of the GDP), and resources for pandemic control and performance of other emergency tasks ensured. The world’s leading corporations and businesses still see Vietnam as an attractive investment destination.
The work of law building and improvement continued to be carried out. Political security and social order and safety were maintained. National defense and security were upheld as foreign affairs were carried out comprehensively, flexibly, and effectively, with the combination of Party diplomacy, State diplomacy, parliamentary diplomacy, and people-to-people diplomacy. This contributed to maintaining a peaceful, stable and favorable environment for development, enhancing cooperation between Vietnam and international partners; and elevating the country’s position in the international arena.
The third highlight for me was the coordination between the Party and State agencies, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, and socio-political organizations has been sustained and improved, creating social consensus on implementation of guidelines and policies of the Party and laws of the State.
|NA Chairman Vuong Dinh Hue addresses at the Conference on implementation of the NA’s 2022 oversight program__Photo: Doan Tan/VNA
In 2021, what National Assembly activities do you consider the biggest highlights?
To truly deserve the confidence of the people, the Parliament handled an intense workload of national importance, accompanying the Government and agencies in the political system in resolving urgent issues in pandemic control and socio-economic recovery, as well as shaping a legal framework for the country’s development in the long term.
The first highlight of parliamentary activities in 2021 was the early completion of the NA’s Action Plan to Implement the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, laying out 107 schemes and specific and priority tasks for the 15th Legislature in each legislative activity.
Making decisions on important issues was the second imprint. During the first two sessions, the 15th NA consolidated the work of leading personnel and decided on a series of five-year plans for 2021-25, including the socio-economic development plan; national financial plan and loan borrowing and public debt payment; and medium-term public investment plan. The Legislature also adopted the investment policy on the national target program on new-style countryside building and national target program on sustainable poverty reduction; economic restructuring plan; the national land-use master plan for the 2021-30 period, with a vision toward 2050 and the 2021-25 land use plan; and approved the 2022 oversight program of the NA and NA Standing Committee and the 2022 law- and ordinance-making program.
Notably, during the first sitting of the 15th tenure, the NA Standing Committee worked with the Government to timely submit to the NA for promulgation Resolution 30/2021/QH15, which provided robust, unprecedented measures, creating a legal basis for the Government, Prime Minister and localities to be more flexible in COVID-19 control efforts - a move that received wide public support. Since then, the NA Standing Committee has issued seven resolutions addressing urgent legal issues on the pandemic fight.
The third issue was about legislation. With the preparations of the NA’s Party Committee, the Politburo, for the first time, issued Conclusion 19/KL-TW on orientations for the lawmaking program of the 15th NA, with a focus on building institutions for sustainable economic, social, cultural, and environmental development. The conclusion of the Politburo and the orientations for the lawmaking program developed by the NA’s Party Committee formed an important foundation for the NA to be more proactive in exercising the legislative power.
NA agencies also raised the spirit of democracy in legislation activities, holding consultations and conferences to solicit feedback and proposals from experts and groups of policy-impacted people.
At the same time, the NA Standing Committee focused on tightening legislative discipline, resolutely rejecting draft laws that fail to meet quality requirements. These efforts have helped improve the quality of laws, especially the two laws passed at the second sitting of the NA.
Fourthly, with regard to oversight activities, the NA decided right at the first sitting to carry out oversight of two issues, namely the implementation of planning policies and laws since the Planning Law took effect, and the implementation of policies and laws on thrift practice and waste combat for 2016-21. It tasked the NA Standing Committee with specialized oversight related to the organization of district- and commune-level administrative units during 2019-21, and the reception of citizens and settlement of complaints and denunciations for five years from July 1, 2016, to July 1, 2021.
The first question-and-answer session for cabinet members was also handled well, with the focus on a prolonged argument time to go into more details of matters of public concern.
Fifthly, with respect to diplomatic activities, overcoming the pandemic-posed challenges, bilateral and multilateral parliamentary diplomacy activities still took place - both virtually and in-person, to deepen the parliamentary ties between Vietnam and other countries. The country also participated more in regional and international multilateral parliamentary forums, thus helping protect and effectively promote security and development-related strategic interests of Vietnam, and assert Vietnam as a responsible member of the international community, and elevate the country’s profile in the international arena.
The NA had robustly pursued vaccine diplomacy to urge vaccine manufacturers and countries to give priority to global measures such as sharing and transferring production technology to increase global output.
Another imprint of the year was the NA’s Party Committee implementing the four themes assigned by the Central Steering Committee for Formulation of the Scheme on “Strategy to build and improve a socialist law-ruled state of Vietnam through 2030, with orientations toward 2045”. These include: (i) the Strategy on building and improvement of the legal system and organization of through 2030, with orientations toward 2045; (ii) improving the mechanism on assignment, coordination and control among state agencies in the exercise of judicial rights and among agencies and organizations in the judicial councils; (iii) renewing the organization and improving the operational quality effectiveness of the NA; and (iv) improving the mechanism to defend the Constitution.
The NA’s Party Committee has completed three themes. It is expected that in October 2022, the Scheme will be submitted by the Politburo to the Party Central Committee for consideration.
These highlights show that the 15th NA has begun its new tenure with myriad challenges and pressures. However, with the motto “proactiveness, wisdom, unity, innovation and responsibility,” we have the right to be proud of the things we have done. By considering the national interests and the people’s interests first and foremost, the NA has surmounted difficulties and managed to flexibly adapt to practical conditions to fulfill the tasks assigned by the Party, the State, voters and the people.
Institution improvement was one of the three “strategic breakthroughs” affirmed at the 13th National Party Congress. How will the NA set out to realize this?
Institution building and improvement have been regarded as a top priority since the 11th National Party Congress and is set to be a key focus for 2021-30.
The Scheme on orientations for the lawmaking program in the 15th Legislature, developed by the NA’s Party Committee and adopted by the Politburo, sets out 137 legislative tasks aiming to improve development institutions and create a legal framework to facilitate the accomplishment of socio-economic development goals of the 2021-25 period.
One priority is to institutionalize the guidelines and policies set out in the 13th National Party Congress to help build a transparent, stable, feasible, consistent and internationally competitive legal system that puts the legitimate rights of the people and businesses at the center, increases oversight and control of the exercise of state power, and promotes innovation to meet requirements of renewal, industrialization and modernization, national defense and security assurance, as well as fast and sustainable development.
The legislation activities in the tenure must ensure that the improvement of the legal system stays under the close leadership of the Party; respect, guarantee and protection of human rights, citizens’ rights, and democracy, justice, social order and discipline. It is necessary to establish the legal relations between the State and citizens; promote social criticism and people’s oversight over the exercise of state power; create institutional breakthroughs to shift from the “management mindset” to a “mindset of facilitating national sustainable development”.
These activities must also facilitate the participation of the people as well as scientists and experts during the lawmaking process; avoid influences of deviant ideas and opinions; make sure that external activities are conducted extensively and enable prompt adaptation to rapid changes in international integration. The legislation work must be meticulous and cautious to meet quality requirements.
The pandemic continues to be complicated, most recently with the Omicron variant. What should we do in response?
After two years of suffering from the pandemic, most countries now live with the virus in a flexible, safe adaptation manner so as to maintain socio-economic development.
Vietnam has also had three months since the switch to the strategy of safe adaptation to COVID-19, and the reality shows that we are going in the right direction, and the socio-economic goals set out by the NA are achievable.
Vietnam is enjoying a very high vaccination rate and is trying to expand coverage to more age groups; many localities have already commenced booster shot campaigns, and public adherence to prevention measures is growing.
But we must not let our guard down. To avoid unnecessary economic and social crises and protect public health, first of all, the Government needs to enhance its forecast ability to strengthen its pandemic response and look at all scenarios to avoid falling into unexpected circumstances that might be much more complicated than before.
Another measure is that we should overcome inconsistency in the adaptation strategy, improve policies on mobilization, allocation and use of resources for pandemic response in a transparent and corruption-proof way.
Also, it is required to promote public-private partnership in the COVID-19 fight, invest more in local health establishments, not only for COVID-19 but also for other diseases.
At the same time, we must analyze and forecast the advantages, risks and challenges and propose practical solutions and recommendations for supplementing and improving the solutions and tasks set out in the Resolutions of the 3rd and 4th plenums of the 13th Party Central Committee, taking into account the impact of the pandemic, which should be integrated into the five-year plans and the economic restructuring plan for 2021-25.
We should also urgently formulate a plan to carry out socio-economic recovery and development program with a focus on creating a new driver of growth in line with current international trends.
Last but not least, the Government should flexibly deploy and coordinate monetary and fiscal instruments to maintain macroeconomic stability, contribute to promoting production and business activities, support people and businesses, and exert recovery efforts. Fiscal and monetary support packages should be built and submitted to the NA for approval.
What are the priorities of the NA in 2022?
With COVID-19 still a major challenge, the NA, which is a manifestation of great national unity, must make efforts to perform its Constitution-given responsibilities.
Special circumstances call for special responses. Right at the beginning of 2022, the NA held its first-ever extraordinary session on urgent measures that have a direct impact on the country’s development efforts in the new normal - including the draft Resolution on fiscal and monetary policies, and the investment policy for the project to build the eastern section of the North-South expressway for 2021-25. I hope that this extraordinary session will set a precedent for the NA to act more flexibly to the on-the-ground situation.
The NA and the NA Standing Committee will more closely accompany the Government and state agencies in order to consider and decide on issues within their jurisdiction, creating an effective legal system to fulfill the 2022 goals and plans on safe, flexible adaptation and effective control of COVID-19, and best protection of the people’s health and life.
They will also focus on removing difficulties for production and business activities, providing support for the people and businesses; taking advantage of every opportunity to promote socio-economic recovery and maintain growth in the long term; persistently maintaining macroeconomic stability, improving the autonomy, resilience and adaptability of the economy; continuing to give priority to improving development institutions and law enforcement, building an orderly, disciplined, safe, healthy, democratic, just and civilized society; focusing on cultural development, ensuring social security and constantly improving people’s lives.
The NA will also strive to improve the efficiency of foreign affairs, thus helping maintain an environment of peace and stability for national development, and raise Vietnam’s position and prestige in the international arena.
Along with that, the NA and the NA Standing Committee will focus on implementing four oversight themes to create fundamental changes in respective fields, especially in planning, thrift practice and waste combat. When we can fundamentally solve the past problems, shortcomings and limitations, thereby improving the legal framework, it will open up a huge amount of development resources for the country.
The Standing Committee and other agencies of the NA will also step up oversight of the promulgation of legal documents to ensure transparent and effective enforcement of the law.
Ahead of Tet, what do you wish to say to the Vietnamese people?
2021 was a year of great difficulties and turmoil. I want to send my deepest sympathies to the immense losses of both property and human lives and all the hardship people had to suffer, and send my best gratitude to the people at the frontline, especially medical workers and armed forces, who have sacrificed so much.
On behalf of the leaders of the NA, I praise and appreciate the Government’s efforts, leadership and drastic administration; appreciate and thank the great contributions and noble deeds of compatriots, officers, soldiers and the business community, along with the effective assistance of overseas Vietnamese people and international friends in the pandemic fight.
What we have achieved in 2021 will be an important basis for the country to move forward. It is forecast that 2022 will still face numerous challenges and difficulties but I believe that with the Party’s leadership, unity and consensus of the people, and the engagement of the entire political system and support of international friends, Vietnam will prevail over the pandemic, protect people’s health and attain socio-economic recovery.
Based on the Resolutions of the Party Central Committee, Politburo, and NA, the Government and concerned authorities have worked and will work together to concretize major policies for socio-economic development. I trust the people and business community can grasp all opportunities available to recover and restructure production and business activities to help get the country back on the track of sustainable growth and development.-