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A landmark assessment of Vietnamese ministries has revealed porous legal frameworks.
The Legal Development and Enforcement Assessment (LDEA) report, released by the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and Industry (VCCI) last week, showed that none of the 14 ministries relating to economic management received good grades, from seven to 10 points.
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The survey was based on responses from 124 business associations with 77,000 enterprises nationwide and focused on the legal development and enforcement of ministries during 2005-2009.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) grabbed first place with 6.13 points, followed by the ministries of Finance (MoF), of Labour, Invalids and Social Affairs (MoLISA), Planning and Investment (MPI) and Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD).
The State Bank, the ministries of Justice, Science and Technology, Information and Communications, Culture, Sports and Tourism, Natural Resources and Environment, and Transport only received medium grades. The lowest positions belonged to the ministries of Construction and Health, with 4.47 and 4.66 points, respectively.
“The results demonstrate that the quality of legal developments and enforcement at ministries has not satisfied the expectations of the business community,” said Vu Tien Loc, chairman of the VCCI.
Among the weaknesses of ministries, the business community complained that it was difficult to access information on drafts of legal documents as well as approved legal documents. These difficulties prevented them from giving comments on legal document drafts.
According to the LDEA, three ministries, including the MoIT, MPI and MoF, got good grades, from 7.22 to 7.40 points, in terms of collecting comments for legal drafts.
However, the business community complained that the ministries were not willing to learn from their comments. The MoIT, which ranked at the highest position in this segment, had only 6.67 points. Meanwhile, nine ministries had medium or low grades.
“Collecting comments for legal drafts has just been implemented under formalism,” said Dang Van Thanh, former vice chairman of the State Budget and Finance Committee at the National Assembly. He said this was because the business community could not predict policy changes.
Furthermore, the LDEA also revealed the poor quality of legal documents issued by ministries that were said to be unsuitable and overlapping.
Tran Huu Huynh, head of the VCCI’s Justice Department, said the assessment would be a reference point to help ministries overcome their weaknesses. “We expect that this assessment will bring a positive influence, like annual reports, on provincial competitive indexes. When we introduced the first provincial competitive index, many provinces that were ranked at low positions protested, but now many of them have improved their business climates,” he said.
Nguyen Phuong Bac, director of Department of Planning and Investment in northern Bac Ninh province, said the low grades might not reflect weaknesses of ministries’ staff, but indicate difficulties in sectors that ministries managed.