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17/08/2010 - 11:00
Good response to reforms of People's Councils

HA NOI — The legal framework regarding rights and responsibilities of municipal and provincial People's Councils must be reviewed if communal and district People's Councils are to be abolished, said Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Sinh Hung.

Hung said the capacities of the municipal and provincial People's Councils had to be enhanced to improve their roles in guaranteeing citizen's rights and interests.

Other organis-ational structures, such as the judicial, monitoring and citizen-oversight groups, also needed to be revised, he said.

Hung was speaking as chair of a meeting in Ha Noi yesterday to review the first phase of a programme to abolish communal and district councils.

The meeting was attend-ed by the National Assembly vice chairman Uong Chu Luu, officials from the Ministry of Interior and 10 participating provinces and cities.

The abolishment process, which is being tested in the 10 cities and provinces, aims to simplify the nation's administrative systems and reduce the number of overlapping responsibilities and functions of lower-level authorities, while giving more power to higher level representative agencies.

Addressing the meeting, Hung said abolishing district and communal People's Councils was of great importance and the pilot period was absolutely necessary.

Early feedback had led to positive changes in administrative reforms, more effective local-government administration and a clear demarcation between urban and rural governments, Hung said.

He said the removal of district and communal People's Councils shortened the distance between municipal and provincial governments and citizens. The councils were also more responsive to citizens' concerns. The monitoring of operations of State agencies at the local level, as well as the rights of citizens, was still guaranteed under the changes, Hung said.

"Before we had district and communal People's Councils. Now their responsibilities will belong to municipal and provincial People's Councils. The new mechanism needs to be carefully planned," Hung said.

He added that the role of the Fatherland Front and other local citizens' organisations needed to be enhanced to better reflect citizens' voices and concerns.

Hung asked participating cities and provinces to continue assessing and reporting on the situation to the National Steering Committee, the Politburo and the National Assembly.

Steering committee

A national steering committee will carefully consider whether to continue the pilot programmes in those localities or to implement the programme throughout the country much sooner.

According to a report from the steering committee, during the pilot year at the district level, the number of citizens engaging with the council rose by 17.6 per cent.

At the municipal level, it rose 6.3 per cent and at the commune level, 11 per cent over the previous year.

Citizen and commercial proposals sent to district People's Committees increased by 8.4 per cent - and by 6 per cent at the municipal level. Proposals sent to district and municipal Fatherland Fronts increased by 37 per cent and 23.1 per cent.

The report also showed that management initiatives for provincial People's Councils had also increased. These initiatives helped conserve financial resources, the report said. — VNS
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