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The Law No.21/2017/QH14 or the Law on Planning was introduced in 2017, and it has significant impacts on the Vietnamese business environment. This law has improved the quality and efficiency of planning and adjusted current planning to market-based orientation and international integration.
However, it is yet to provide specifications on the obligation of the state and local agencies in conducting planning, time limitation, and detailed content requirements for planning formulation. Decree No.37/2019/ND-CP was issued on May 7, 2019 with a view to guiding the implementation of Law on Planning. Specifically, Decree 37 has provided certain noticeable regulations on the following issues.
First, the national planning in formulation and database systems shall be established and operated in the form of a portal connecting ministries, ministerial authorities, and provincial people’s committees in order to serve the purposes of formulating, enquiring, announcing, and providing information on planning, and supervising and assessing implementation. Competent authorities shall update the database of planning dossiers within the scope of administration to the online national system no later than 10 days from the date of planning approval.
Next, the time limitation for formulating national comprehensive, marine spatial, land use, and regional planning is 30 months, among which integration of planning for national comprehensive, national marine spatial, and regional planning shall be formulated within 18 months. For national sector planning and provincial planning, the time limitation is 24 months from the date of planning approval. The issuance and effect of Decree 37 shall contribute to solving the slowdown of hundreds of projects and other works, as well as removing problems in production and business activities across many sectors.
Third, by the year 2020, it is expected that Vietnamese enterprises shall be able to compete with global companies and reach sustainable development. The government’s targets also include increasing clarity and transparency of regulations and enhancing management effectiveness by simplifying procedures to shorten the timeline for granting approvals and permits.
Lastly, planning on different levels is being formulated with directions provided in Decree 37. Specific guidelines on these plans stipulated in Annex 2 and 3 of the decree boost synchronisation between levels of agencies, hence avoiding discrepancies during project appraisal.
In addition, since district planning has been integrated with the provincial planning, and the total number of planning is contracted in accordance with the issuance of the Law on Planning and Decree 37, procedures in project dossier submission for approval are simplified and more effective. Thus, the cost of time-consumption and resources that enterprises endure is cut down, leading to enterprises being able to enhance efficiency and keeping pace with emerging business opportunities.
With the introduction of a national information and database system as a portal connecting multilateral entities participating in the process of planning and project appraisal, the process is more transparent and effective. Since information and database must be updated within 10 days by the competent agencies under their scope of administration, dissemination of data among agencies and enterprises is to be more efficient. Enterprises will have better access to all planning approvals, project announcements, and notifications via the portal.
The draft planning is also required to be sent for enquiry on the national information and database system and announced on the official website of the agency formulating the planning. Objects of enquiry shall be the central committee of the Vietnam Fatherland Front, ministries, ministerial agencies, provincial people’s committees and resident communities, organisations, and individuals in relation to the planning.
Prior to the issuance of Decree 37, a number of national-level plans, regional plans, and provincial plans had been elaborated according to Article 58 of the Law on Planning. However, some of these plans are not properly prepared in accordance with detailed instructions on the contents and order of planning formulation, obtaining comments, and appraisal according to Decree 37. Therefore, if the government and the provincial governments decide to reorganise these plans, it shall have an impact on the resources and extend the planning time.
The Law on Planning regulates the national master plan as a basis for establishing national maritime spatial planning, national land use planning, regional planning, provincial planning, and urban planning. However, the system stipulated in the Law on Planning is different from the planning system developed for the 2011-2020 period.
Some plans have never been prepared such as national master plans or national marine spatial planning. Thus, there is currently no adequate zoning and regional orientation for regional planning. If the regional and provincial planning is made after the national master plan is approved, it may not guarantee the required progress for planning level for the 2021-2030 period.
The Law on Planning and even Decree 37 do not stipulate the adjustment of planning in the transition period until the regional, provincial, and national plans are approved. Therefore, if there is no mechanism in this transition period, the projects that are applying for additional planning may have to wait at least one to two years, that is, until 2021, to be approved.