Committee prepares for NA, Council votes

The National Assembly Standing Committee (NASC) convened its 44th session in Ha Noi yesterday to discuss preparations for the elections of the 14th National Assembly and People's Councils at all levels for the 2016-21 term.

During the three-day meeting, lawmakers will set dates for the elections and discuss four laws that are expected to be submitted to the NA session in March.— VNA/VNS Photo Phuong Hoa

During the three-day meeting, lawmakers will set dates for the elections and discuss four laws that are expected to be submitted to the NA session in March.

Speaking at the meeting, NA Chairman Nguyen Sinh Hung said the elections were nearly upon us, so relevant offices should work closely together to ensure their success.

In the morning session, lawmakers discussed the revised Law on Signing, Joining and Implementing International Treaties and the draft Law on Information Accession.

NA deputies also agreed that the existing law, which was approved in 2005 and took effect in 2006, needed revisions to fix shortcomings and align with revisions to the Constitution.

The need was urgent because Viet Nam wanted deeper international integration, and the nation, along with 11 other Trans-Pacific Partnership member countries, reached a final consensus on the world's largest free trade agreement earlier this month.

The revised law has nine chapters with 90 articles. Compared to the current law, the draft bill retains 10 articles, erases 24, amends 73 and adds 20 new articles, making it practically a brand new law.

Lawmakers also discussed the draft Law on Information Accession complied by the Justice Ministry.

The draft law states that every citizen should have equal access to information. Information must be provided in time, accurately, sufficiently and transparently. The State must also ensure people with disabilities and people in remote areas can benefit from this right.

The 34-clause draft law regulates the right to access information of individuals and organisations as well as the responsibilities of State agencies in ensuring citizens' rights.

After hearing a report delivered by the Justice Minister Ha Hung Cuong, NA Chairman Hung questioned some of the main points of the draft bill.

Hung said the Law on Information Accession must clearly regulate what information could be accessed, but the draft law did not answer the question.

"In my opinion, the bill is null and void. The current decrees and ordinances regulate in detail what information can be accessed. Why does this bill not include these issues?" Hung said.

He asked the compiling board to adjust the draft law by March.

"The law will not be passed at the next NA session if the point is not clear", he said.

Many deputies had ideas to broaden the range of available information. This would mean State agencies would have the responsibility to provide not only information they create but also data they withhold. This will help ensure citizens' rights to access information.

Some lawmakers said information providers should include public agencies and businesses.

Deputy Truong Thi Mai disagreed with an item that regulates that local authorities only provide information to residents who live in their localities.

"It's just nonsense," Mai said, "For example, if a person from a province wants to buy land in another province, why should they be denied access to information?" she said.

Deputy NA Chairwoman Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan said the public should have access to information in all fields and sectors. The draft law should review what information is public or restricted, she said.

Deputy Nguyen Van Hien agreed with Hung's opinion, and said the draft law must regulate the right to access information by individuals and organisations in detail. If passed by the National Assembly session in March, the law will take effect in July 2018.


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