The Prime Minister has recently approved the Scheme on organization of public communication about policies with great impacts on the society in the process of formulating legal documents for the 2022-27 period. Vietnam Law & Legal Forum magazine has an interview with Deputy Minister of Justice Nguyen Thanh Tinh about the Scheme.
Could you please tell us about the purpose and significance of the Scheme on organization of public communication about policies with great impacts on the society in the process of formulating legal documents?
Vietnam’s legislation already has provisions on the dissemination and provision of information about policies in the process of formulating legal documents. For instance, the 2015 Law on Laws (revised in 2020) provides the collection of opinions on draft legal documents as a compulsory requirement in the formulation of legal documents. Meanwhile, the 2012 Law on Law Dissemination and Education and the 2016 Law on Access to Information define the citizens’ right of access to information, specifying kinds of information subject to disclosure, including draft legal documents.
Over the recent years, aside from positive outcomes, the public communication about draft policies has not yet been carried out in a synchronous and effective manner. The collection of opinions about proposals for formulation of draft policies and draft legal documents has been carried out mainly via portals or websites of ministries, sectors and local authorities and therefore gained limited effectiveness. The law dissemination and education have not been in close combination with the lawmaking work since they have been carried out mainly for issued legal documents. This has been creating a loophole in the public communication about draft policies, thus affecting the drafting quality of legal documents as well as effect and effectiveness of the implementation of policies after they are issued. Moreover, not a few legal documents remain in the pipeline even though the drafting process has been completed probably for the reason that the quality of their drafts and social consensus remain unsatisfactory. Some legal documents, right after being issued, even received controversial opinions and negative policy reactions from the community because no public communication from the stage of drafting had been organized.
Based on reality and for the purpose of institutionalizing the Resolution of the 13th National Party Congress, and in pursuance to major guidelines and orientations for the law dissemination and education stated in Conclusion 80-KL/TW dated June 20, 2020, of the Party Central Committee’s Secretariat, and tasks and solutions set out in Prime Minister Decision 1521/QD-TTg dated October 6, 2020, the Ministry of Justice has proposed to the Prime Minister the issuance of Decision 407/QD-TTg approving the Scheme on organization of public communication about policies with great impacts on the society in the process of formulating legal documents for the 2022-27 period (the Scheme).
The issuance of the Scheme is of great significance and aimed at building a complete, timely, uniform, feasible, public, transparent and stable legal system that centers on the lawful and legitimate rights and interests of the people and businesses in the process of building and improving a socialist law-ruled Vietnamese State. At the same time, the Scheme’s contents conform to the guideline “People know, people discuss, people do, people examine, people supervise and people benefit” stated in the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress and meet the requirement on renewal of the law dissemination and education - the first stage of the process of organization of implementation and introduction of laws into life, ensuring the close linkage with the law making and improvement work.
The Scheme is expected to serve as a “nudge” for the work of public communication about draft policies to be carried out from the early stage and right from the time of making proposals for formulation of legal documents, ensuring that such work is performed in a complete, thorough and effective manner, thus helping improve the quality of policies and legal institutions, creating social consensus as well as raising the people and businesses’ sense of respecting and abiding by law, and thereby meeting the goals of socio-economic development and national defense and security assurance.
Particularly, the issuance of the Scheme is a step forward to profoundly concretize and consistently implement viewpoints and guidelines of the Party and the State in undertaking proactive and active international integration in a comprehensive, intensive and effective manner; to maintain an environment of peace and stability; and to unceasingly raise the position and international reputation of Vietnam as affirmed in the Documents of the 13th National Party Congress. The public communication about draft policies and laws would provide foreign investors, overseas Vietnamese and foreigners in Vietnam with an effective channel of information about policies and laws as well as forecasts about policy changes for better understanding the business investment climate in Vietnam and carrying out effective cooperation activities in order to help Vietnam bring into fullest play its internal resources and make the best use of external resources, thus dedicating their contributions to the national socio-economic development in the new period.
How do you evaluate the role and responsibilities of press agencies in law dissemination and education activities in general and the public communication about draft policies in particular?
The press is an essential mass medium for the social life. Over the recent time, with its basic characteristics being popularity, promptness, timeliness, wide coverage and multidimensionality, the press has, in law dissemination and education activities, served as a bridge between the Party, the State and the people, introduced laws into life, and helped officials and the people raise their awareness about law as well as sense of law observance. At the same time, the press has reported to the Party and the State on the people’s proposals and recommendations about inappropriate policies and regulations, shortcomings and problems in the law enforcement as well as their opinions on draft policies and legal documents so that the Party and the State can have an additional important information channel serving the improvement of policies and institutions.
Under Prime Minister Decision 407/QD-TTg that I mentioned earlier, the press plays a very crucial role and acts as a key and core information channel through which the public communication about draft policies and laws is carried out. I hope that in the coming time, communications and press agencies will continue to bring into play their role and collaborate with agencies in charge of drafting legal documents in providing the public with information about contents of draft policies with communications products suitable to impacted subjects and the entire society in a multidimensional manner.
As the lead agency monitoring and urging the implementation of the Scheme, how does the Ministry of Justice plan the implementation of the Scheme to achieve the target that from 2030, all policies with great impacts on the society regulated by the Scheme will be publicized from the time of collecting opinions on proposals for formulation to the time of issuance?
In the capacity as the lead agency monitoring and urging the implementation of the Scheme and as the permanent body of the Central Council for Coordination in Law Dissemination and Education, the Ministry of Justice has, since the Scheme has been approved, advised the Council on issuing a document to guide the implementation of the Scheme; and held activities to disseminate the Scheme for its consistent, comprehensive and practical implementation within the entire political system, particularly all-level agencies in charge of drafting legal documents, information and communications agencies, press agencies, and related entities. The Ministry has also issued a plan on implementation of the Scheme for every year. In the time to come, the Ministry of Justice will coordinate with the Ministry of Information and Communications in preparing manuals on communications skills; reviewing and improving relevant regulations; and providing training for legal document presenters and disseminators as well as correspondents and editors of press agencies. The Ministry will also cooperate with the Lawyers’ Associations and Bar Federations and mobilize scientists and experts to carry out public communication about draft policies. However, in my view, to achieve the above target, it is required to mobilize the participation of all related agencies, organizations and individuals in law dissemination and education activities in general and public communication about draft policies in the process of formulating legal documents in particular. Only by doing so, can we make the Scheme’s goals feasible.
It is also necessary to clarify that the public communication about draft policies is a task of not only the Ministry of Justice or the justice sector but also the entire political system. So, to achieve the goal that from 2030, all policies with great impacts on the society regulated by the Scheme will be publicized from the time of collecting opinions on proposals for formulation to the time of issuance, the Ministry of Justice asks ministries, sectors and specialized agencies under provincial-level People’s Committees to closely collaborate with it and judicial bodies at all levels in organizing the implementation of the Scheme. They should also work with one another to promptly remove difficulties and solve problems, and propose and implement solutions for effective public communication about draft policies in order to improve the quality of lawmaking activities and the efficiency of law enforcement, thereby creating a social consensus about legal documents after they are enacted, and further uphold the sense of law observance by the people and businesses in the coming time./.