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|Phu Quoc Island in the southern province of Kien Giang is the biggest island in Vietnam. In 2006, the Kien Giang Coastal and Ocean Biosphere Reserve was recognised as a World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.-VNA/VNS Photo Ngoc Ha|
Discussing the draft Law on Special Administrative and Economic Zones of Van Don, Bac Van Phong and Phu Quoc at the ongoing 14th National Assembly (NA)’s fifth session, deputies said a flexible policy on local authorities would create favourable conditions for not only the three special zones but also the three respective localities (Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa and Kien Giang provinces) and the whole country.
The deputies pointed out a gap in regulations on the organisation and jurisdiction of People’s Court and other judicial agencies at special administrative and economic zones (SAEZs) as the draft law retains the competence of courts at district levels.
Accordingly, all complaints of locals against the actions of People’s Committee and chairmen of People’s Committee would be handled by courts at provincial levels. The delegates said that this regulation should be considered in the context of SAEZs’ dynamic development, the potential increase of civil and administrative cases, especially cases related to land, site clearance and project compensation.
According to deputy Nguyen Thi Thuy from the northern province of Bac Kan, the number of complaints against administrative decisions of the local People’s Committee to the court in the last three years significantly increased, notably in Phu Quoc District, where the figure doubled.
“The draft law only increases the SAEZs’ courts role in civil cases, but not administrative cases, leading to the provision that the courts can handle civil cases, even very complicated ones but have no jurisdiction to solve complaints at the same level,” Thuy said.
Thuy, also a member of the NA Judicial Committee, noted that in terms of geographical conditions, all three SAEZs are far from the centres of Quang Ninh, Khanh Hoa and Kien Giang provinces.
“For instance, to get to Kien Giang People’s Court, residents and investors from Phu Quoc District have to cross 120 km of sea. If the first verdict of the provincial court is appealed or protested, the appellate trial shall be resolved by a higher court, which are only in Hanoi, Da Nang and HCM cities. Residents and investors will struggle to continue to defend their legal rights,” Thuy said.
Deputies proposed that the justice organ of the special zones should be authorised to deal with administrative cases related to the SAEZs’ people’s committees and People’s Committee chairmen. The model of administration for the special zones in the draft law won the approval of most deputies.
Specifically, the People’s Council of a special zone will have no more than 15 deputies with a majority being full-time deputies and without any standing board or supporting units. The People’s Committee will have only one Chairman and two Vice Chairmen. The People’s Council and People’s Committee of a special zone will share a supporting office and specialised units.
However, deputy Nguyen Ngoc Phuong from the central province of Quang Binh asked to reduce the number of papers the Chairman of the People’s Committee are required to sign.
Deputy Vu Thi Luu Mai from Hanoi urged re-considering the stipulation that the Chairman of the People’s Committee of a special zone is authorised to approve investment projects belonging to Category A. She said those projects at present must go through many layers of verification and assessment as they bear great significance to the national economy and security. Caution should be taken when giving such power to an individual, she said.
Meanwhile, deputy Truong Trong Nghia from HCM City urged eliminating the regulation of land allocation for 99 years, saying no investment project has such a lifespan.
“This term is in fact an additional incentive for investors to transfer after completion of the project or to change the project midway without having to return the land,” he said.
Emphasising the territoriality of the three special zones related to islands, Nghia said that investment in the exploitation of sea areas and water resources must comply with the Law on Borders, Law of the Sea and Law on Water Resources.
In response to NA deputies’ concerns, Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung asked for careful consideration, however he emphassied the law needed to be promulgated soon and could be adjusted after taking effect.
Regarding the allocation of land for 99 years, Dung proposed keeping this in the draft because this is also the policy and practice many countries have implemented. “Regulations on land acquisition will be clear and strict so that investors cannot take advantage of them,” he said.
National Assembly deputies on Wednesday afternoon discussed a draft law to amend 13 planning-related laws, insisting such changes were necessary.
The 13 laws include Law on Electricity, Law on Energy Efficiency and Conservation, Law on Tobacco Control, Law on Food Safety, Law on Pharmacy, Law on Notarisation, Law on Investment, Law on Investment Public investment, the Law on Science and Technology, the Law on Construction, the Law on Urban Planning and the Law on Cultivation.
Stressing on the need for supervising the implementation of planned projects, deputy Pham Minh Chinh from HCM City suggested a regulation on compulsory displays of the planning. Accordingly, the display must show the planning orientation and people’s supervision of planning.
Chinh also urged for more decentralisation on the implementation of planning.
"By doing so, the central Government will just be responsible for issues within the scope of functions, tasks and powers while localities will take responsibilities for issues of their own," Chinh said.
Deputy Tran Anh Tuan from HCM City asked for quick review on planning to solve the problem of delayed projects which have seriously affected local people’s lives.
Deputy Tran Van Mao from Nghe An Province suggested the draft law should also study the assessment of the practical and uniformity between the Law on Construction and the Law on Urban Planning before adoption to ensure suitability, avoid duplication, overlapping, creating conditions for enterprises in licensing investment procedures, project planning.
Agreed with Mao, Le Quang Huy, deputy head of the National Assembly Committee of Science, Technology and Environment, said the amendments should match with urban development.