Planning Law strife marks NA debate

Intense debate over the Planning Law heated up a National Assembly Standing Committee meeting yesterday afternoon, raising fears it might not be passed in time for localities to prepare their own development plans.

Vu Hong Thanh, Chairman of the NA Economic Committee responsible for reviewing the draft law, expressed concerns that the law might not be ready to be submitted to the NA for approval in time to go into effect on January 1, 2019 as planned.

Localities would organize their Party Congress in 2020, during which they would have to pass their five-year socio-economic development plans for 2020-2025, said Thanh.

“We don’t know how they will develop the plan without the Law on Planning at that time,” he said.
Ministry vs. ministry

The main contentious point in the debate was that the Ministry of Construction (MoC) insisted on adding a specific article regulating that all works related to construction, or the so-called construction planning, should abide by the Law on Construction instead of the Law on Planning.

Construction Minister Phạm Hồng Hà argued that provisions of draft Planning Law relating to construction did not cover all areas relevant to construction planning, while they are already well covered in the current Construction Law.

“A law that is not comprehensive might lead to unnecessary disarray and fail to ensure a thorough legal system,” he said.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment in charge of drafting the planning law, however, criticized the “construction planning” phrase used by the MoC.

“All top experts have confirmed that there is no country in the world that has the so-called construction planning,” said Planning and Investment Minister Nguyen Chi Dung.

NA Economic Committee Deputy Chairman NGueyn Duc Kien noted that the lawmakers had already made compromises with the MoC to put urban planning and rural planning off the draft Planning Law.

“But we can’t have a ‘construction planning.’ If it is to be allowed, the whole Law on Planning will be ineffective as a tool to balance resources,” he said.

Thanh cited the example of the Giang Vo area in Hanoi where ‘construction planning’ had turned the area originally meant for exhibition purposes without much need of infrastructure into a crowded one with a population boom flooding into newly-built apartment complexes. The sewage system, traffic and other social infrastructure, consequently, failed to meet the demand, he said.

“Even if we have to amend a lot of laws to be in sync with the Law on Planning, which could possibly lead to disarray, we have to do it as the Planning Law is vastly superior,” Dung said.
“We shouldn’t back up and can’t back up,” he stressed.

It is estimated that 32 laws will have to be amended or supplemented to match with the Planning Law if it is to be approved.

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