Speech at the dialogue on public consultations and hearings with the ethnic council and committees of the National Assembly

Jan 4, 2013

Speaker: UNDP Resident Representative a.i., Mr. Bakhodir Burkhanov
Date:       Friday, 4 January 2013
Event:     Dialogue on Public Consultations and Hearings with the Ethnic Council and Committees of the National Assembly
Venue:    Hai Phong City

Mr. Nguyễn Hạnh Phúc, Chair of the Office of the National Assembly

Distinguished Vice-Chairs of the Committees of the National Assembly, Vice-Chair of the Ethnic Council and Vice-Chair of the Office of the National Assembly

Honourable National Assembly Deputies, members of the People’s Councils

Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is a real pleasure for me to open this dialogue on public consultations and hearings by National Assembly committees.

Since 2008, when public consultations were introduced during the 12th term of the National Assembly, UNDP has been supporting their application, both by the National Assembly committees and Provincial People’s Councils. As part of this initiative, agencies, professional organisations, experts, and citizens across Vietnam had the opportunity to express their views and interests for consideration in law-making and oversight work of legislative bodies.

It is therefore encouraging that public consultations, commonly used by parliaments around the world, are about to become a well-accepted element of the work of elected bodies in Viet Nam. Public consultation in the context of the amendment of the Constitution is a demonstration of lawmakers’ commitment to this approach.

The practice allows citizens to voice their opinions on policies that affect their lives, and further enhances legislative planning and oversight. For example, consultative workshops as a tool of public consultations are a means for committees to collect relevant information and feedback on clearly defined topics. As a result, policies may be adapted to better reflect the needs, aspirations and rights of people on the ground.

Committee hearings, in turn, are formal meetings with stakeholders on policy issues or government activity and are mainly used in order to obtain information and conduct well-informed oversight and legislation. Committee hearings are indeed very useful for verifying the reports of agencies or implement an inquiry. Particularly, the public nature of such hearings with ministers, or “explanatory sessions” as they are referred to in Viet Nam, can resonate widely within the National Assembly, the government, and in society.

Careful preparation of public consultations is essential for their success and effectiveness. At present, the relevant parliamentary laws in Viet Nam have no explicit provisions on the organisation of public consultations including committee hearings. To address the technical challenges, UNDP over the past four years, has supported targeted research on the concept and limitations of public consultations, trainings, and the development of guidelines for effective public consultations, including the provision of comparative inputs and international benchmarks.

Currently, various National Assembly committees use differing approaches when organising public consultations. Through the project “Strengthening the Capacity of Representative Bodies in Viet Nam”, in cooperation with the Office of the National Assembly and utilising the expertise of national and international experts, reference materials have been developed for the committees and their staff. These materials help clarify and implement various consultative activities.

Today’s dialogue provides an excellent opportunity for the presentation and demonstration of these guidelines, and to hear first-hand from the National Assembly committees about their experiences with public consultations. The event aims to further enhance the understanding of serving deputies – and inform newly-elected ones – with regards to the concept and benefits of public consultations.

I hope that the important practice of public consultations and committee hearings will be further developed, applied and institutionalised in Viet Nam. The development of clear and binding regulations on the organisation, conduct and recommendations emerging from hearings is highly desirable. Systematic follow-up on feedback gathered during such consultations is particularly important in this context.

As a result, the links between the National Assembly, the Government and the public will be enhanced garnering further authority and support for the Assembly.

In closing, I would like to thank the Office of the National Assembly for organising this dialogue. I wish all National Assembly deputies success in their important work, and all participants – enriching discussions during today’s event.

I also take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy and fulfilling calendar New Year.

Xin cam on va chuc suc khoe.