Oct 27, 2012

Vietnam - Ending the power monopoly

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VietNamNet Bridge – Members of the National Assembly yesterday urged the Government to apply a fully competitive retail power market sooner than the scheduled date of 2022 in order to offer a wider choice for customers.

They pointed out measures that would ensure fairer competition in the electricity market during a discussion of the draft amendments to the Electricity Law.

The suggestions included restructuring the power sector and strengthening the independence of each power company.

The Electricity Law, which came into effect on July 1, 2006, had revealed various limitations within the economy that challenged the electricity industry and needed further amendment, congressional members told the fourth session of the 13th National Assembly (NA).

According to the revised law, power users must bear a number of fees such as generation fee, transmission fee, distribution fee and regulator fee.

But representative of Quang Tri Province Delegation Ha Sy Dong said so many fees would increase electricity prices, which would negatively affect the life of citizens as well as businesses.

A number of the delegation suggested excluding the regulator fee, saying it came under government management and so should be financed from the State budget.

Meanwhile, some congressional members said several regulations, based on electricity prices and investment, were no longer appropriate to the country's economic development, preventing investment and energy saving.

In addition, the current electricity price had not taken into account constant changes in the market and other factors, such as exchange rates or hydrography conditions.

The plan for electricity development should also take into account schemes for other renewable energies such as wind and nuclear power.

The draft revealed a lack of regulations on supervising the implementation of electricity-related projects which had led to power shortages throughout the country.

NA deputies also agreed to extend provincial People's Committees' plans for electricity development from a five-year period to 10 years to comply with the national master plan.

Amendments should aim at increasing responsibility while limiting the monopoly of power production and supply companies and protecting customer rights, according to many deputies.

On the same day, the NA also discussed the law on lawyers, saying law teachers and lecturers should not work as lawyers at the same time to ensure the quality and professionalism of educators.

Deputy head of the Legal Affairs Committee Nguyen Van Hien said as many as 20 per cent of the lawyers in Viet Nam were still unqualified and unprofessional.

However, a number of congressional members argued that law lecturers would become bookworms without practice, so they should also work as lawyers.

Lawyer Truong Trong Nghia, from HCM City, said: "It is ridiculous to ask law lecturers to teach things that they cannot practice."

Deputy Prime Minister Nguyen Thien Nhan agreed, saying theory should go hand in hand with practice.

Today the NA will hold group discussions on social economic development and the draft amendments to the Law on National Reserve.

Annual votes on officials

The National Assembly and local People's Councils will begin to carry out confidence vote annually on 49 top national and local officials, if a proposed resolution drafted by the National Assembly Standing Committee is adopted.

In the text of the draft resolution released yesterday, the Standing Committee said that annual confidence votes had become a necessity and would be in accordance with existing laws and Party resolutions, including the Resolution of the 11th Party Central Committee's 4th meeting.

"This is a step towards realising what is provided for in the nation's Constitution and laws and would overcome constraints in existing procedures on confidence votes," the resolution said.

No appointees to positions approved by the National Assembly have ever been subject to confidence votes due to a lack of a solid legal or regulatory foundation, it said, noting that the proposed system would eliminate problematic confidence vote procedures.

Under the draft resolution, deputies would carry out confidence vote annually of 49 positions whose initial appointments required National Assembly approval.

These would include the President, Vice President; Prime Minister and deputy ministers; cabinet members; President of the Supreme People's Court; President of the Supreme People's Procuracy; and Chief Government Inspector, as well as such leading legislative positions as National Assembly chairman and vice chairmen; chairman of the Nationalities Council; chairmen of National Assembly committees; and members of the National Assembly Standing Committee.

People's Councils at provincial, district and communal levels would vote annually on the offices of People's Council chairman and vice chairmen, permanent members of the People's Council, People's Council committee chairmen, and People's Committee chairman, vice chairmen and members.

Beginning next Monday, National Assembly deputies will for committees to discuss the proposal in detail.


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