NA session to tackle host of public concerns

The National Assembly (NA) should extend priority loan deadlines, punish environmental polluters and report on the fight against corruption, the Vietnam Fatherland Front quoted voters as saying, a day before the opening of the NA’s 16th session beginning October 20.

The Fatherland Front said October 19 that they had received comments from 1,687 voters nationwide.

A need for easier loans

Farmers in the Mekong Delta harvest rambutans. Voters said it was hard for farmers benefit from the stimulus package. (Photo: Hoang Thach Van)

Most voters said that it was hard for farmers and farming collectives to benefit from economic stimulus policies such as low-interest loans, mortgage credit, or loans for equipment. They agreed, however, that government measures have proved positive in other ways, helping the country’s economy overcome a difficult period with gradual recovery resulting in growth.

There is a high demand for loans from farmers, but many households cannot apply for them under the current stimulus package because government rules stipulate that loans can only be applied for after previous ones have been repaid.

The Vietnam Cooperative Alliance and Vietnam Association of Craft Villages said that only 10 percent of their members, both individuals and organizations, enjoy benefits from the stimulus package.

As a result, voters want the government to thoroughly review the current stimulus package before launching a new one.

The government should also stop allowing loans for business that differs from production and job creation, farmers said.

Banks should be ordered to simplify procedures for those applying for loans, especially in suburban areas, they added.

Regarding the cut-off date for the low-interest loans, farmers requested the government extend the deadline to the end of 2010.

Stricter punishments for polluters

A lot of factories along the riverbanks have polluted the Thi Vai River. Voters ask the government to impose appropriate penalties for those who seriously damage the environment.

Environmental pollution also topped the public’s list of concerns, after monosodium glutamate producer Vedan Vietnam was found polluting the Thi Vai River in Dong Nai, Binh Duong and Ho Chi Minh City, but refused to compensate farmers for losses caused by the pollution. The public was also outraged to learn that under Vietnamese law, the company could not be prosecuted.

Voters said that local authorities were too slow and lenient in handing down penalties for polluters, and that punishments were often inappropriate.

Hundreds of factories produce unsafe food and dispose of wastewater into rivers, while aging vehicles pollute the air with toxic emissions, voters added. 

Mekong Delta residents worry about pollution on the Tien and Hau Rivers in the region, resulting from fish breeding and factories on the riverbanks, said the Fatherland Front.

Voters from the central region raised concerns over the exploitation of white sand and titan, badly effecting protective forests along coastal areas, while farmers in the Hong River delta protested coal exploration projects in the delta, the Front added. 

The government should issue more specific rules and outline the responsibilities of individuals and organizations in charge of environment protection as well as impose appropriate penalties for those flout the law, voters said.

They asked the government to issue steeper fines, withdraw business licenses, or file lawsuits against those who seriously damage the environment.

Report on corruption

The public is also concerned with the state of corruption in the country, particularly in the use of budget and foreign capital. Voters noted that several corruption cases have been resolved too slowly.

The NA and Government must issue stricter regulations on investment, infrastructure construction, and land-planning projects among others.

Many voters said they wanted the government to report results on the fight against corruption at the NA session. The government should also focus on bringing more cases to trial and publicizing the information in the media, they added.

By Phan Thao-Translated by Viet Trung

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