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Vietnam Today

NA's second session opens today

Released at: 06:30, 20/10/2016

NA's second session opens today

Photo: Duc Anh

Reports and draft laws up for discussion but the TPP is off the agenda.

by Nguyen Ha

The second session of the National Assembly (NA) will open today with a major focus on economic development in 2016 and 2017.

The legislature will review reports from the government and vote on four draft laws on social associations, religion, asset auctions, and amendments to the Criminal Code 2015, according to Deputy Chairman of the NA Office Do Manh Hung.

Thirteen other draft laws and one resolution will be discussed by delegates at the month-long session, he said. The TPP will not be on the agenda, according to NA General Secretary Nguyen Hanh Phuc.

“The NA will have ten days to discuss and review reports from the government, the Vietnam Fatherland Front, and the Supreme Court, as well as other important reports,” Mr. Phuc told a press conference on October 18.

The NA will also review the implementation of the “Building New Rural Areas in 2010-2015” program, which has been linked to the agriculture restructuring program.

There will be a Q&A session for two and a half days. “Any NA delegate wanting to discuss matters further with ministers can notify the Chair, who will facilitate an open discussion,” said Mr. Phuc, adding that the NA can extend the discussion session if needs be.

At the NA Standing Committee meeting on October 18 the legislature refused to raise the government's debt ceiling from the current 50 per cent of GDP to 55 per cent to fund its budget obligations and debts.

The government wants to borrow more but the legislature declined the request. Instead, it said the rule could be loosened by lifting the limit to 53 per cent, effective until 2020, after which the limit must return to the current level of 50 per cent.

Government debt in 2015 was already over the set limit, totaling VND2,133 trillion ($95.6 billion), or 50.9 per cent of GDP, according to the General Statistics Office.

The NA also has a ceiling on public debt of 65 per cent of GDP and foreign debt of 50 per cent. The government, however, has not proposed to adjust these.

“We must keep public debt under the safe threshold, as we did from 2011 to 2015,” said Mr. Nguyen Duc Hai, Chairman of the NA Finance and Budgetary Committee. Official figures show the budget deficit stood at 4.4 per cent of GDP in 2011, 5.36 per cent in 2012, 6.6 per cent in 2013. 5.69 per cent in 2014, and 6.1 per cent last year.

Mr. Phung Quoc Hien, NA Vice Chairman, said the government is not allowed to use more than 25 per cent of its annual budget revenue to meet debt obligations but it went beyond that limit last year in using more than 29 per cent.

This second NA session will last until November 23.

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