HCMC seeks to repeat removal of ward, district legislatures

By Trung Son   June 5, 2020 | 11:22 pm PT
HCMC seeks to repeat removal of ward, district legislatures
HCMC People's Council members vote over a land price issue at a meeting on January 15, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Trung Son.
HCMC wants its ward and district level legislative agencies, the People’s Councils, removed for the second time as an administrative streamlining measure.

The People’s Committee, the highest executive body in the city, will submit this scheme to its parliamentary delegation, aka the municipal People’s Council, and the Standing Committee of the city’s Party Committee within this month. The plan will be submitted to national authorities later.

If it is approved, it will mark the second time that Vietnam’s southern metropolis abolishes the district and ward-level People’s Councils.

Back in 2009, HCMC was one of 10 localities piloting a scheme to abolish the ward and district level legislatures. However, this had to change after the 2013 Constitution and the 2015 Law on Organization of Local Administration came into effect. Both the revised national charter and the other law mandated that Vietnam’s local administrations must consist of People’s Councils – the legislature, and the People’s Committee – the executive.

Accordingly, in 2016, the city reestablished the councils for all wards and districts, adding more than 8,300 members to its civil servant strength. The new additions together received a total salary of more than VND47 billion ($2 million) per year.

Now, the municipal Department of Home Affairs has assessed that the 2009-2016 pilot scheme had helped the city streamline its governing apparatus, overcome duplication of functions and tasks among state agencies, improve efficiency and effectiveness of the administrative machine, and promote grassroots level democracy.

Abolishing the People’s Councils at lower administrative levels would also also help the city reduce its workforce and effect budgetary savings, the department said.

It noted that during the pilot removal of the lower level legislative agencies, the People’s Committees at higher levels were able to directly appoint leaders of lower level executive branches, ensuring governance consistency.

Otherwise, the lower level People’s Councils would vote the chairpersons and vice chairpersons of lower level executive branches, which is a more time consuming and costly process.

The capital city of Hanoi will have no People’s Councils in the ward level starting July next year, according to a resolution issued late last year by the nation’s top legislative body, the National Assembly.

The government has recently targeted cuts of at least 10 percent to its payroll by next year to ease budget pressures.

In 2018 the State Audit Office had called for greater oversight over public sector human resources after finding 57,175 government workers were surplus to requirements.

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